Happy Easter everyone! Last weekend we drove to my parents’ just like every year to celebrate the last few days of Easter together with them. I love Easter, probably more than Christmas, but Mr. Panda only started to ‘celebrate’ Easter when we started to date. He not celebrating it was actually predictable, but so I was actually able to teach him all the customs and traditions I grew up with. Yay!
I grew up about 300 kilometers (~ 190 miles) from Vienna in the most Southern Part of Austria, only a 30 minutes’ drive away from Italy and Slovenia. Now, as you know, every region has its own ways of celebrating festivals, and the way my family and I do is strongly influenced by the Eastern part of Carinthia, the most Southern state of Austria, the place where my family is originally from.
The Holy week in Eastern Carinthia
It all starts with the Palm Sunday (Palmsonntag). Many normally prepare small bushes we make out of pussy willow branches. I sometimes colored eggs which I put on it. People then bring to the church to get them blessed by a Catholic priest. I always skipped that one mass and ditched my grandma when I grew older, but I still love to prepare the bush and decorate them even now.
Other days’ worth to be mentioned are probably Maundy Thursday (Gründonnerstag) and Good Friday (Karfreitag). When I was young I was not allowed to eat meat on these two fast days, but as I grew older I started to forget about which day it was and it all started with me accidentally eating ham sandwiches on these days. Whoops.
So what is so special about celebrating Easter in Southern Austria you might ask now? It starts on the last day of the Holy week, the Holy Saturday (Karsamstag). Like every year, we first prepare a wicker basket with lots of traditional Easter food in it.
Afterwards we go to a small park near a hospital where my favorite priest is appointed to do the so-called ‘meat blessing’ (Fleischweihe). As he is so busy he normally only takes about 10 minutes, and his speeches are always so funny as well. I normally always go there with my grandma, but this year we went there alone to remember her.
After the blessing it is finally the time to eat what is in the basket! These are for example smoked sausages (my favorite), cooked ham, smoked ox tongue, fresh horseradish, boiled eggs, and Reindling (yeast cake with sugar, cinnamon and raisins). Because it is used to celebrate the end of the Lenten season, it contains lots and lots of meat.
The first Easter snack (Osterjause) was actually quite strange for him and it took him some time to get used to the sweet bread with was eaten together with the meat. Although we prepared sandwich bread for him the following year, he actually wanted to eat the snack the traditional way. He actually started to like it so much that he is looking forward to it every year now, and I sometimes have to make it for him during the rest of the year too. Which is actually very strange for me.
While we were away, my mom the Easter bunny actually came and hid little Easter presents, Easter nests, for us in the garden. It was time to look for them. I found them really fast as always. Mr. Panda was as slow as always, which is normal as he lacks 20 years of Easter egg hunt experience.
All in all he really started to like celebrating a ‘slim version’ of Easter with us. He loves the traditional food and is looking forward to my mum’s Easter egg hunt. And let’s face it: you can lure in every Chinese with nice food.
How do you celebrate Easter? Do you follow any special traditions?
I am sorry that I need to make my post short again, as I am currently super busy with finishing my Master’s thesis, wedding planning and digesting what I ate at my family gatherings last week.