By the end of winter everybody is yearning for warmer temperatures. Trees begin to flower, new leaves grow- and Easter is just around the corner! This is a festivity for the whole family and Saxony is offering something for everyone: from idyllic excursions into the countryside to regional delicacies and traditional customs. Especially in Upper Lusatia you can find ancient and unique Easter customs, which are still actively celebrated among the Sorbs, a slavic minority from this region.
Easter traditions in Saxony
A unique experience: celebrating with the Sorbs in Saxony
Where eggs become mini masterpieces
For Slavic tribes like the Sorbs the gifting of elaborately decorated eggs actually goes back to pagan times. In many cultures eggs are a symbol of fertility and were eventually integrated into religion as a symbol for the resurrection of Jesus.
Traditionally the Sorbs decorate their Easter eggs on Good Friday using various techniques such as the so-called wax reserved technique. The results are beautiful colourful eggs with symmetrical patterns showing for example symbols like the Trinity and flowers.
Experience Easter Riding Processions
Easter riders are an ancient Sorb tradition. After the Easter church service, the riders, dressed up in frock coats and top hats, are blessed before riding around their local church. Afterwards the entire procession, which can consist of up to 450 horses, rides to the nearest church to proclaim the good news of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The parish they’ve visited would then perform the same procession in another parish so that everyone hears the news. Although its historical origin has not been varified, it can be assumed that this custom originated from the so-called "riding around" the fields to protect the harvest from damage. But whether superstition or tradition, when visiting Upper Lusatia make sure to plan it for Easter so that you don't miss out on this local highlight!
Best places to get your unique Easter decoration
During the weeks approaching Easter there are various markets around Saxony where you can buy the exquisite Easter eggs hand-made by the Sorbs as well as other beautiful Easter decoration. We have listed a selection for you:
Bautzen: (04.03.-05.03.2023) At this traditional Easter egg market you can not only purchase collectors' items, but also watch the artists transforming eggs into little artisanal masterpieces. The "Most beautiful Sorbian Easter egg" will also be awarded in the House of the Sorbs.
Dresden: (30.03.-02.04.2023) This exhibition is celebrating the beginning of spring with a focus on spring flowers, garden decoration, an orchid world, but also Easter decorations and local craftsmanship. This event will definitely get you into the mood for spring and Easter celebrations!
Schleife: (25.03.-26.03.2023) This Easter egg market showcases traditionally decorated Easter eggs in an actual Sorbian village. Approximately 30 artists will be showing the four locally known techniques to decorate their Easter eggs. There will also be workshops available for you to try yourself.
Leipzig: (05.04-10.04.2023) The Easter market and the historic Leipzig Easter Fair will attract visitors to the city center. A variety of entertainment and curiosities await you during five great days- with jugglers, comedians and musicians. Food stalls with hearty dishes as well as bars and pubs full of refreshing drinks invite you to delight your taste buds.
The tradition of "egg pushing"
“Easter egg pushing” has been a tradition on Easter Sunday for over 400 years and attracts many visitors to Bautzen every year. It is one of the main attractions during Easter.
Originally, the children of wealthy families would roll hard-boiled eggs and other items, such as oranges and nuts, down the hillside. These were caught by poorer children on the bottom of the hill for keeping.
Nowadays, colourful plastic balls are rolled downhill. The children will catch them and then exchange them for a gift. The event is traditionally presented by the so-called “Eierjockel”, an icon in Bautzen.