German Traditions and Recipes for Easter Part 3: Holy Saturday

Welcome to the third part of my little series about Easter in Germany.

Today is all about Holy Saturday and what is happening that day.

Holy Saturday is officially called “Karsamstag” in Germany. Just like in “Karfreitag” (Good Friday), the word “Kar” indicates that it is another day of sorrow and mourning as Jesus is now dead and in his grave.

Very religious people do indeed continue to fast and are very contemplative on Holy Saturday still.

The churches across the country don’t decorate the altar or any other parts of the church with flowers, as they would normally do. No candles are being lit and the church bells and organs remain silent.

However, outside the churches and in most family homes we are looking at a completely different picture.

Holy Saturday is not an official Holiday in Germany, so all shops are open again and it is actually one of the busiest days of the year. Many people go and do their grocery and other shopping to stock up for the Easter Holidays. It has to be done sometime, I suppose.

It is also a day that many people pick to give their home a good spring cleaning especially when, as is often the case, visitors like aunties and uncles or even the mother in law are expected to come for a visit over Easter.

One huge tradition in Germany is to paint eggs in all kinds of different colors, as artfully as possible and to decorate bushes and trees in the garden with those eggs.

First of all the egg yolks and egg whites are being “blown” out of the egg, by making a small hole into the shell on one side and a slightly bigger hole on the other. One blows into the smaller hole, so that the egg yolks and egg whites are being forced out through the bigger hole on the other side.

This is often left to Dad and the children of the house. Dad usually has enough air reserves in his lungs to do the blowing, and the children are getting a good laugh out of Dad making funny faces when fulfilling this task.

The children then do the painting and decorating.

Another tradition on Holy Saturday that is worth mentioning are the “Klapperkinder”.

“Klapperkinder” translates into English as “Rattle-children”.

Church bells are normally being rung to call people to come to church for prayers or a church service. As they can not be used on Holy Saturday, the children of the village are walking through the streets and sound specially designed wooden rattles to call people for prayer.

It is however a leftover from many years ago and only still being done in very rural, catholic areas, to keep the tradition alive. As you can surely imagine it is great fun for the kids to walk around the village and to make a lot of noise, after having to be quiet all day on Good Friday.

The biggest thing about Holy Saturday however is, that it is a day of some serious baking.

One thing that is often baked that day is the so called “Osterlamm”, or “Easter lamb” in English.

In the old days many people couldn’t afford real lamb for Easter Sunday-dinner and to have some kind of lamb for Sunday, they just baked a cake and formed it into a lamb-like figure.

While most people can nowadays afford lamb meat, the tradition has been kept alive.

Another pastry that is traditionally made on Holy Saturday is the so called “Osterzopf”.

It is a plaited loaf of sweet yeast dough and I thought I pick the “Osterzopf” recipe to share with you.

Here it goes:


3 oz. sugar

3 oz. butter

1 oz. fresh yeast

1 cup milk

1 lbs. flour

1 egg

some lemon peel

dash of salt

1 egg white and egg yolk scrambled for brushing the loaf

5 oz. raisins

1 1/2 oz. flaked almonds

In a large bowl mix sugar, butter, yeast and milk.

Then add flour, the egg, salt, lemon peel and raisins and mix until you have a nice workable yeast dough.

Leave the dough in a warm place for appr. 1 hour.

Now cut the dough into 3 equal pieces.

Roll each piece into a strand of about 15 inches in length and braid the 3 strands together.

Line a baking tray with some baking paper and place the yeast braid on top.

Leave in a warm place for another 1/2 hour to 1 hour.

Pre heat your oven to 370 degrees F.

Brush your yeast braid with scrambled egg white and egg yolk, sprinkle with flaked almonds and bake for appr. 35 – 45 minutes.

Tomorrow is the big day and if you are interested in what is going on in German families on Easter Sunday, stay tuned.

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