Since 2008, Frankenmuth has participated in decorating the town and our buildings with Spring and Easter decorations. The large displays are called Osterbrunnen.
The Easter Celebration in Frankenmuth officially takes place two weeks before and after Easter. Over 40 businesses decorate their properties or storefronts in addition to the City and Chamber/CVB’s efforts.
History of Osterbrunnen
Many of you may ask what is an Osterbrunnen? Osterbrunnen in German means Easter Wells. Ever wonder why in Frankenmuth you will see the evergreen garland decorated with yellow ribbons and Easter eggs in those funny shapes during March-April? There are a few different reasons for the origin of this custom.
Every year shortly before Easter when you visit the lovely area of “Frankische Schweis” which means “Franconian Switzerland”, you will find the wells, trees, buildings and fountains richly decorated with colored Easter eggs, pine-branch garlands, and spring flowers. This beautiful and unique custom that attracts thousands of tourist each year was found only in Northern Bavaria, Germany originally. This is the area from which the early settlers of Frankenmuth originated. However now all of Bavaria practices this custom.
What is the origin of this custom?
- In pagan times, the change of the season from winter to spring was a significant celebration for the people. They were happy to say “good-bye” to the hard winter and “hello” to the extra warmth and frequency of the sun.
- For Christians, Easter is one of the most important festivals of the church year. Special church services are held to celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord.
- A sense of “community and fellowship” within the villages contributed to the continuation of these customs. Women baking special items for example lamb shaped cookies and braided fruit bread. They put the first flowers into their homes. They boiled eggs and colored or painted them as little presents for children. Men did something for the community. They did heavier work in the woods like cutting trees as decorations for the village and church buildings. The men also had to clean the wells from which the whole village drew water. Normally there was only one well in the village for drinking and cooking water.
This custom is the reason for water and eggs being two symbols with such deep meaning.
Digging wells for fresh water in the rocky area of Franconia was especially difficult with water being scarce and a good well was greatly appreciated. When the men cleaned the well in the spring, they celebrated by the women placing colorful decorations over the well. This tradition has grown to not just decorating wells.
Throughout the year, women collect hollowed eggs, hand paint them and string them together to make colorful garlands that will be used to decorate the towns’ central fountain. They also make arches and crowns of evergreen branches decorated with eggs and ribbon, and sometimes with little rabbits or roosters & hens. The crowns and arches are usually placed on the tip of the fountain.
In Frankenmuth you won’t find as many hand painted, hollowed eggs on the Osterbrunnen. However we would still like to invite you to walk through Frankenmuth during our Easter Celebration to see all the wonderful Osterbrunnen decorations throughout the town.
Nowhere else can you find the celebration of this German tradition to the extent that Frankenmuth does!
Froehe Ostern! (Happy Easter!)
From our Bavarian Inn family to yours,