Carinthian Easter: Eggs, Bunnies, Ham and Fire

In my homeland Carinthia, the state „Kärnten“ in the south of Austria, the Easter Egg and gifts search as well as the typical Easter snack is a Sunday Eve‘s ritual – i.e. it takes place on saturday – whereas in the rest of Austria the us is on Easter Sunday.

Saturday morning starts with the traditional „Fleischweihe“ (consecration of meat) at church – a basket filled with food, mostly meat: traditional Carinthian bacon, ham and sausages are consecrated by the priest during the service.

In the afternoon all the kids are awaiting impatiently the Egg Search – as together with the hidden eggs they will find a lot of little gifts. Usually all tiny items are hidden in the garden or the free nature – so the parents are well advised to count all gifts and eggs (!) before hiding them 😉 Nevertheless each year there are one or two losses which will be found only in Summer or even later by chance… LOL

Multicoloured Easter Eggs

later the kids and sometimes the adults as well 😉 play „Eierpecken“ – crashing the eggs together: the broken egg has lost and can be eaten 🙂

The colourness of all those Eggs – the cooked ones are hidden and later eaten but there are also all sorts of artistically painted eggs which serve as decoration on bushes, on flower bunches, on the house and in the home… – remind me of the Hindi Holi (Festival of colors or „spring festival“). Both symbolize spring and fertility and when looking out onto the nature, the flowers, the blossoms, the new green in the meadows and the fresh blue sky so it‘s quite obvious why mankind feels so attracted by colours and reflects nature in its colourful rituals….

As I‘ve mentioned before the traditional Easter meal consists among others in wet-cured ham and sausages which have to be cooked for some hours before serving them. The Carinthian people used to be rather poor farmers; so they invented to use the „soup“ where the ham was cooked also for a very delicious though cheap dish: the „Ritschert“. Into the water where the ham had been cooked they gave pearl barley, beans, carrots, celery and similar sop vegetable, juniper berries and laurel. Of course today meat economics is not the point and you find copped mouth pieces of ham or wet-cured meat in the Ritschert as well. At the end some vinegar is pored into. Although it was originally an Easter dish it is eaten all over the year in Carinthia.

Osterjause – the traditional meal

The Easter Snack consists of the colored eggs, the wet-cured ham: the traditional Carinthian „Osterschinken“, traditional sausages called „Krainer“, lots of fresh horseradish or „Eierkren“ (horseradish mixed up with finely chopped eggs, oil and vinegar, salt and pepper, mashed with a fork to a sort of paste) and last but not least the Reindling (a yeast cake with lots of sugar and raisins). We Carinthian people eat all those things at the same time, we put onto a piece of sweet Reindling a thick slice of ham and above the hot egg-horseradish which makes you cry! SO that‘s the definitive test if you are a native Carinthian – sorry to say that – but no Viennese would ever eat those delicious specialities at the same time – they use to take first the ham with brown bread and only afterwards – as dessert – the Reindling. No chance to convert those „strangers“ LOL!

Osterfeuer – Easter Fire on the mountains

In the evening it is custom to burn all the garden rubbish like old leaves, cut branches and so on. So you sea big fires everywhere: in the gardens, near country inns, on fields, at farmers…. Usually people are gathering and enjoying the huge fire together. As you may imagine the kids are foolish about it, they are so happy to throw little pieces of wood into the fire….
The great tradition though is to have the „Osterfeuer“ on the mountains – all around on the mountain peaks you can see the glowing fires…

Funny enough in Holi celebrations fires, burnings and gifts play a crucial role as well 😉 And also in Iran Nouruz you find the crucial fire and little sweet gifts 🙂 for me as a pagan being those parallels in symbolic and ritual motives are highly fascinating… and it makes me happy and gives me hope that different cultures have found similar symbols and rituals to express their collective feelings about the season circles in the year. Are peoples really so different? Isn’t there more uniting than separating???

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