What Is an Ostereierbaum? Learn All About Germany's Charming Easter Tree Tradition

German families have been adding these cheerful egg displays to their homes, inside and out, for years.

painted egg tree decoration
Photo: Johnny Miller

If you're looking for fresh inspiration for your Easter decorations, meet the Ostereierbaum. A beloved German tradition that's taken off in other corners of the world, the Ostereierbaum is a tree or shrub decorated with hanging Easter eggs. Whether you turn your outdoor greenery into an Easter tree or create one for inside your home with foraged branches and dyed or painted eggs, the Ostereierbaum is a stunning way to celebrate the holiday—and add some extra beauty to your space.

The History of the Ostereierbaum

The Easter tree 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 centuries. Some families even keep their trees out past Easter, decorating them for other holidays throughout the year.

One of the most well-known displays of an Ostereierbaum stood in the eastern German town of Saalfeld. Volker Kraft and his family started the tradition in 1965, when they began adding eggs to their outdoor apple tree, NBC first reported years ago. Each year, the family would add more eggs to the tree, for a final tally of more than 10,000 eggs.

Despite the Kraft family's work on their Ostereierbaum, the current Guinness World record for the largest Easter egg tree is held by Rostock Zoo. Located in Pomerode, Santa Catarina, Brazil, the famous pecan tree—which remains the biggest of its kind since it earned the record in 2017—is decorated with 82,404 hen eggs.

How to Make an Ostereierbaum

An 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. They can also be made outside; many German families decorate live trees and bushes with blown-out egg ornaments.

Once you've found your branches or designated tree, start painting your eggs. Traditionally, the ornaments are colored wooden eggs or hollowed-out decorated eggshells. If you have kids, get them involved by having them draw and color small Easter scenes to place around the tree.

  1. Thread a 10-inch length of 1/8 inch wide silk ribbon through the eye of a long needle.
  2. Insert needle in bottom hole of blown-out egg; draw it up through top hole.
  3. Leave a hanging loop at the top, and draw needle back down through top and bottom holes.
  4. Add festive garlands or ribbons throughout the branches for pops of color.
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