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What Is Ostereierbaum? The Charm of Germany's Easter Tree Tradition, Explained

German families have been adding these cheerful pops of color to their homes for years.

painted egg tree decoration
Photography by: Johnny Miller

If you're looking for fresh inspiration to brighten your Easter decorating, meet the Ostereierbaum. Originally a German tradition that's taken off in other corners of the world, the Ostereierbaum is best described as an Easter tree. Think: A small tree with bare branches decorated in hanging Easter egg ornaments.

 

The tradition is slightly mysterious; there's no real story as to when or how it began. But German families across the world have been adding this cheerful pop of color to their homes for hundreds of years. Some families even keep their trees out year-round, decorating them for other holidays like Christmas as well. Ostereierbaum can be kept inside the home by taking a few young branches (usually pussy willows, magnolia, or cherry blossoms) and placing them in a vase of water, or they have also been known to be outside—German families have long been decorating live trees and bushes with blown-out egg ornaments.

 

RELATED: 7 EASTER TRADITIONS CELEBRATED AROUND THE WORLD

 

According to NBC News, one of the most famous displays of Ostereierbaum can be found in the eastern German town of Saalfeld in the garden of Volker Kraft. He has been adding eggs to his family's outdoor Ostereierbaum—an apple tree—for years, eventually adding an incredible 10,000 eggs to its branches. It all started in 1965 with 18 eggs. Every year, the family would add an average of 700 eggs, according to The Telegraph, ending up with more than 10,000 in 2012. Another tree of note? The Guinness World record for the largest Easter egg tree was set by Rostock Zoo, which decorated a tree with 76,596 painted hens eggs in the spring of 2007.

 

Making your own Ostereierbaum is simple. Once you've found your branches (remember: they can be indoors or outdoors), start painting your eggs. Traditionally, the ornaments are colored wooden eggs or hollowed-out decorated eggshells. To attach a length of ribbon to your eggs, thread a 10-inch length of 1/8-inch-wide silk ribbon through the eye of a long needle. Insert needle in bottom hole of blown-out egg; draw it up through top hole. Leave a hanging loop at the top, and draw needle back down through top and bottom holes. You can also add festive garlands or ribbons throughout the branches for pops of color. If you have kids, get them involved by drawing and coloring small Easter scenes to place around the tree.

 

Feeling inspired? Watch how to blow out an egg: