Easter weekend will no doubt feel a little different this year. So, while we all stay safe at home, we have some traditional Easter crafts and recipes from around Europe for you to try. Embrace all things home-made and get creative this Easter.
Easter is an extremely important Christian holiday in Slovenia, but it is also a lot of fun. A popular trend over Easter is to decorate hard-boiled eggs. The decoration styles vary from region to region, pisanke is when patterns are painted on to dyed eggs and drsanke sees patterns carved onto the eggs. An old Slovenian legend says that years ago, girls would give these eggs to their sweethearts as a way of showing their love; these patterns have now been passed down from generation to generation. Games with the eggs develop into fun contests over Easter, where the aim is to try and ‘chop’ or ‘ beat’ the eggs – taking turns to throw coins at eggs placed in a basket at least a metre and a half away, or use a curved stick to aim at an egg set up six metres away.
Be Inspired – get creative
Boil and dye your own eggs at home, paint and carve patterns on them and play fun games together as a family. Which design ideas will you use? Top Tip - To get a nice pattern on the egg before you boil them you can pick any wild small flower leaf from any small weed or grass and hold it against the egg while wrapping it with a small cut stocking. Then tye at the top with a piece of string so it stays in place once boiled, when you take it out of the stocking it will leave a lovely pattern.
Easter is a holy week or Karwoche of religious ceremony in Austria. It all starts on Palm Sunday when Austrians take large bouquets of juniper or periwinkle branches decorated with apples, oranges and artificial flowers to their local church to be blessed. In Innsbruck these ‘palms’ are around 5 metres high but in Tyrol they can be up to 30 metres! Food plays a very important role in celebrations and Austrians love to indulge their sweet tooth with Osterpinze (a sweet bread), and Easter Lamb proving popular choices. This confusingly titled Easter Lamb treat, is actually a type of sweet sponge cake, which is baked into the shape of a lamb using a specialist pan.
Be Inspired – bake the Austrian way
Create your own sweet Osterpinze to enjoy at home on Easter Sunday. This soft bread can be served with slices of Easter Ham, just like they do in Austria, or you could think of it as a giant scone and add cream, jam and even enjoy a cup of tea with it.
In Iceland, Easter marks the chance to celebrate the start of spring which brings longer daylight hours and warmer temperatures. During the five-day national holiday, Icelandics attend religious confirmation parties for young relatives, and enjoy feasts of Kransakaka wreath cakes (a marzipan tiered cake with white chocolate glaze) and bread casseroles. There isn’t an Easter Bunny in Iceland, in fact Icelandic folklore favours the Easter Chick and throughout the holiday many homes, are decorated with handmade chick ornaments and green ribbons. Parents plan elaborate hunts to hide special chocolate treats, as Easter eggs are considered a big deal in Iceland. Given as a gift, the sugary treats are decorated with the Easter Chick and filled with bags of traditional sweets, a joke or even an Icelandic proverb.
Be Inspired – create your own Easter Egg
Instead of shop bought Easter Eggs, why not try something different this year, and make your own? All you need is some chocolate and a mould, which you can pick up online. Take inspiration from the unique Icelandic designs or get creative with your own patterns, then fill it with sweets and a joke – to help others laugh this Easter.
Easter (Pasqua) in Italy is a highly religious celebration, just second to Christmas. One of the many noteworthy Easter events in Italy is the Scoppio del Caro – the explosion of the cart – in Florence. This grand tradition is recognised as the most spectacular by far and takes place in the heart of the city where an ancient wagon, filled with fireworks is lit and an explosion ensues. Multi coloured smoke fills the air and a pinwheel spins before opening up with a deafening bang. This tradition dates back to the 18th century and the same wagon is still used to this day. Like many cultures across the world Italians give chocolate eggs as gifts, they signify rebirth and the beginning of spring.
Be Inspired – follow an Italian Easter tradition at home
Another delicious traditional food that is also given as a gift throughout Italy over Easter is Colomba di Pasqua, a sweet dove shaped bread made with pearl sugar and almonds. Try making your own at home and fill your house with aromas of citrus fruit and vanilla.
Easter is a major four-day celebration in both religion and German folklore. It all starts with families gathering around bonfires on Easter Sunday, to mark the end of winter and the start of spring – folklore says the fire helps to drive away the evil winter spirits from your home. Back in 1965 the tradition of placing Osterbaum (Easter Trees) decorated with ribbons and dyed eggs started as a way to bring colour into homes and gardens. Easter egg hunts are also a popular tradition; in fact, we have Germany to thank for the Easter Bunny. Early German myths, tell how Eostra – the goddess of spring and fertility transformed into a hare, and promised to return each year bringing eggs. Later in 1682, the German scientist Georg Franck Von Franckenau wrote about a bunny that hid eggs in the garden for children to find. The tradition stuck and by the 19th century edible bunnies became a key part of German Easter celebrations.
Be Inspired – bring some colour into your home
Take inspiration from the German Osterbaum (Easter trees) and create a colourful Easter decoration in your home, or outside in your garden. Be prepared to get creative and hands on with your decorations, as you hang salt dough ornaments, ribbons or decorated eggs from branches – the more colour you use the better!
A fun Easter tradition across Switzerland is the Eiertütschen (egg smash) game, usually played by families, involves boiling eggs and dying them in various colours, two people smash their eggs together, the person whose egg stays intact wins. The aim of the game is to see who has the strongest egg. This is usually enjoyed at home, but the Swiss capital likes to go public by organizing a big egg smashing competition on Easter Sunday. Fun fact: Did you know that in Switzerland there is no Easter Bunny? Cuckoos are more common, it’s the origin place of the cuckoo clock, after all.
Be Inspired – bake some Swiss Easter treats
Add foods from around Europe to your menu this Easter. The Swiss enjoy Osterchüechli (sweet shortcrust pastry pies) as part of their Easter feast. Why not give it a go by following this recipe.