We throw our Easter eggs over the roof, carry firewood to church and cook soup from rabbit food. We South Tyroleans are something special. Also at Easter. In addition to the well-known customs such as carrying palm bushes, pecking eggs or consecrating candles, all kinds of special customs and traditions have been preserved, especially in the valleys. We have searched for the most beautiful and weirdest ones for you - and found them!
Of rabbits, hens and pagans
Between Palm Sunday and Easter Monday, it seems as if a door to the past opens here in South Tyrol. Maybe even one to the other world. Into a dimension full of magic and superstition, full of ancient knowledge and almost forgotten wisdom. For hardly any other festival is so bursting with symbolism. For better or worse, the Church has had to accept that the Easter bunny, hen, eggs and baked goods have their origins in paganism. And so, in the course of time, very special customs arose in which ancient fertility goddesses play just as important a role as the resurrected Jesus Christ. During Holy Week, the week before Easter, many strange customs appear, even among South Tyroleans who usually only go to church every Lord's Day.
Green, greener, nine herb soup
It goes without saying that no meat is eaten on Maundy Thursday, but green vegetables. In some places, there is even real "rabbit food" in the soup pot. At least, that's what the meat lovers in the family call it, who can do little with the lovingly and mindfully collected wild herbs in their soup. Admittedly, you have to get used to the taste first, but when you imagine the life force in this herbal soup, it tastes a little better. The "Neunkräutersuppe" is cooked a little differently in every South Tyrolean valley, but the basis is almost always a classic roux with onions, which is then infused with vegetable stock. Then the famous nine herbs are added, usually nettle, dandelion, deadnettle, meadowfoam, wild garlic, goutweed, daisies, chickweed and plantain. If you want to try this Maundy Thursday soup yourself, please heed the tip from senior chef and kitchen artist Sepp: "Gather your herbs far away from dog walking paths and only cook the herbs for a very short time. Otherwise it will become bitter!" If necessary, you'll have to mask the taste with a bite of "Fochatz". Fochatz is a sweet Easter bread made from yeast dough. If you're lucky, your godmother or godfather will even give you a sweet bunny made of Fochatz dough for Easter.
Baroque splendour in coloured glass
From the pleasure of the palate we now come to a real feast for the eyes. Unfortunately, this tradition is not exclusive to us South Tyroleans, but it is so beautiful and touching that it should not be missing here: the Easter grave with the glass balls. Anyone who has taken a few minutes during Holy Week and sat down in a little church decorated with Easter baubles knows the very special magic and peaceful charm of this festive decoration. These Easter graves almost fell into oblivion, for in the middle of the 20th century, glass baubles were considered "old-fashioned" and "unfashionable". Thank goodness that in this country, too, some people still remember the glass treasures in the (church) attic and have started to put up Easter tombs in churches and chapels again. What we find particularly exciting: At the time of their invention, namely in the Baroque period, the glowing glass balls were a futuristic spectacle: with the "special effects" of glass and light, people wanted to make going to church a little more palatable.
We stay in the church for a while. When Easter slowly reaches its climax with the Easter Vigil from Saturday to Sunday, people in South Tyrol carry all kinds of things to "turn out" at mass: Home-baked bread, coloured eggs, candles, spring water, an Easter shrub or a piece of firewood are common. This is called the "consecration of the log". The log has to be burnt a little in the holy Easter fire and thus becomes a special, consecrated object itself. This "softened stake" can then be placed in a field, a vegetable garden or - quite modernly - in a raised bed and thus bring lots of fertility and growth.
Fly, Goggele, fly!
Finally, we have a curiosity for you. Because the Easter eggs - called "Goggele" in this country - are not only eaten here in South Tyrol, but in some places they are thrown. Usually over the roof. That is supposed to protect against heavy storms.
Now we are curious: What bizarre, funny or particularly beautiful Easter traditions do you have at home? Just send us an e-mail or a message on Facebook or Instagram! We are always happy to read from you!