I think holidays are sneaky. I know they are all marked on my calendar and in reality I know they are coming, but it still seems like they suddenly show up and are waiting for me to figure out how to celebrate them in our new context. My question this week has been- what happens in the U.S. so that I know Easter is coming? Do my holiday rhythms really hinge on Target’s decorations and merchandise? Being as we are from Minnesota I am fairly sure it isn’t a change in the weather that helps me know Easter is near. I can say this because while it was cool and rainy here the week before Easter it was warm and sunny there, but now there is snow again in MN so clearly the weather is not my trusted source. I knew Easter was coming, we have a two week school break surrounding it, so really I knew it was coming. Half the problem was not knowing what Easter in Berlin looked like. I did some research: I asked a couple Germans how they celebrate Easter here, I read things online, I researched what was happening in the city during the week before and over the weekend, and I looked for what the church does that weekend. As with Christmas and Thanksgiving, I am now better prepared for next year.
I missed our churches Good Friday service- the reflection on what Christ did for us, in a safe and known place, with a reflective message and music. I didn’t realize just how much I relied on that yearly event to bring the weight of Easter to my mind. If I skip over that day, all it entailed and what it points to I don’t feel like Easter has the same joy (or pomp it usually does) because I have skipped important details. Now I realize this I will need to be conscious of this for the coming years and figure out how the local church remembers that or, start traditions surrounding it in our home.
On Saturday we colored Easter eggs like we would back home. The colors were really vibrant from the color kit I bought at the store and the kids each had fun coloring several eggs. As they get older it requires less and less work on our part. I set up the colors and we did very little after that, oh the mixed emotions of kids growing older. We also made Easter baskets/ bowls from a paper kit I bought at the same store (which on Easter morning were filled with quality German chocolate bunnies and eggs).
That evening we went to an Osterfeuer (Easter Fire) with some friends. These happen all over Berlin (probably all over Germany) and are considered a traditional Easter event. Some of these are serious fires. The one we attended was pictured in newspapers and on websites featuring Easter weekend events all over the city and since we are new we decided to go to the biggest we could. We took buses for almost an hour to get to a beautiful park, that if it wasn’t almost dark and so cold we would have wandered around to enjoy. We met a couple from language school there, so that was fun. The fire was big, really big (and was about 2.5 meters wide and about 2.5 meters tall), but sadly fenced off so you couldn’t get too close. There was a live “folk”/country music band playing (Johnny Cash covers), beer tents, a couple food tents, and a big hill that the kids ran up and down for a while. It wasn’t as large an event as I thought it would be, but we are glad to have gone. Promptly at 9 pm the firefighters snipped the wires holding the logs together and blasted it with a water hose, party over.
Sunday we got all dressed up (like a normal Easters) and went to church. The highlight for me was just how much of the sermon I could understand! When we first attended church there in September I was certain I would never get to the point where I would be able to understand a sermon and on Sunday I understood almost all that was preached. After church we stayed for cake and coffee (normal on Sundays there) and chatted with people for a bit. Then we came home and started cooking Easter dinner.
We knew we were going to be Skyping with family back home so we planned to lay low, eat dinner and stay near the computer. Easter dinner took a little longer to make that I had anticipated, but it was so delicious it didn’t matter. Like Thanksgiving we learned that we can indeed create and entire Easter meal ourselves. Buying a ham was not as easy as it would be in the states. It was in the section of the meat department that sold: tongue, pig stomach, pig hooves, and other odd meats. I was a little nervous about what we were really buying, but if it wasn’t ham in the end I was fooled;) Denny whipped up an amazing glaze for it and I am sure we will be recreating it in the future. New to us this year was eating white asparagus instead of green, it was delicious. We did see green at the store but they wanted 8.99€ for one bundle and white was only 2.99€ per bundle so we embraced something new and it worked out well.
Another new to us Easter thing was a lamb cake, which I had heard that this is a pretty common tradition. A lamb cake pan was gifted to us this year so I baked one up at 8:30 Easter morning. The box with the pan had a recipe that I used and I set it in the oven. A little while later I smelled something burning and looked in the oven only to see that the cake was coming out of the pan like a volcanic eruption. I cleaned that up, put a pan under it and finished baking. I didn’t decorate it, I should have but ran out of time/energy/will power/ all the above. Next year I plan to make another one, with a pan underneath, and decorate it (these are lofty goals). **I have no idea what happened to the photo of it after it came out of the pan. Seen as we have now eaten his head I will not be posting any photos of our completed lamb.**
We finished out the night on Skype with Nicole’s mom and Denny’s parents before sending the kids off to bed. It was a good first Easter in Berlin, full of learning experiences and lists of what to do again and not, just as any “first” should be.
We hope your Easter celebrations were full of joy, laughter, love, and rejoicing over our Risen King.