Easter in Austria: a celebration of the Resurrection
When? April 12th, 2020. The date varies each year. It falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon at the beginning of Spring.
Meaning and History. It’s a day to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. The Son of God overcame death! This means that death is not seen as the end but as the beginning of a new life. The origin of the word "Easter" cannot be clearly established; it could be a derivation from the Old Germanic "Austro" for "Dawn". According to the New Testament, Jesus was awakened from the death "early in the morning when the sun rose" on "the third day according to the scriptures".
How it is celebrated. The preparation for Easter begins with Lent. This fasting season lasts for the 40 days during which Jesus fasted and prayed in the desert. The week before Easter is called Holy Week: this week Jesus began his final journey. During this time people should fast, pray, repent, clean their homes and decorate eggs (a symbol of the empty tomb).
"My parents have a big farm in Salzburg (Radstadt) and Easter is a large and important holiday there," Bettina Zwisler, a doctor assistant from Villach, says. "We have a custom to decorate Easter eggs on Holy Thursday. Good Friday is a day of fasting, we don’t eat meat. On Saturday evening we go to the church to sanctify Easter meal: Easter ham, sweet bread, Reindling (only in Carinthia!), butter, salt, eggs. At 3 a.m. Jesus resurrected, so we light the big Easter fire. Nowadays we do it as a rule at the night before, on Saturday. And there are many neighbors together".
Family traditions. Bettina Zwisler tells how she celebrates Easter with her son Clemens and her husband. "At Easter we are always with my family on the farm. We are used to color Easter eggs, to decorate willow branches with eggs together with Clemens. For Gernot's family Easter meal on Saturday is the culmination of the holiday. The whole family gets together to enjoy the festive food: sanctified eggs, Easter ham and Reindling (Easter Carinthian cake).
In childhood Easter had more importance for me. Coloring eggs with my mother, going to the church with her parents and siblings, the Easter fire in the middle of the night, searching on Sunday morning the Easter basket – all of it was very exciting. Today Easter brings a lot of joy to my son Clemens. I wish he continued to maintain this tradition".
Bettina Zwisler with her son Clemens.
Colorful Easter eggs, chocolate bunnies and gifts – so many things belong to Easter in Austria.
Easter festivities catholic church in Kärnten: catholic-easter
Easter festivities protestant: protestant-eastern
Easter in Cainthia: kaernten.at
Text und Fotos: Vita Vitrenko