<p>Many people gather around large bonfires reaching several meters high on the eve of Easter Sunday. Often the wood of old Christmas trees is used for this occasion.<br/>This German custom is actually an old pagan ritual dating back to before Christ to symbolize the coming of spring. Back then it was believed that any home or field shone upon by the light of the fire would be protected from sickness and misfortune.</p><p>This hopping Easter creature is believed to originate from Germany. The first known account of <em>der Osterhase </em>is found in the 1684 notes of a Heidelberg professor of medicine, where he discusses the ill-effects of overeating Easter eggs. German and Dutch settlers later brought the notion of <em>der Osterhase </em>or <em>Oschter Haws </em>(dutch) to the U.S. in the 1700&#39;s.</p><p> In some parts of Germany and Switzerland, children waited for <em>der Osterfuchs </em>instead. Children would hunt for his yellow <em>Fuchseier </em>on Easter morning which were dyed with yellow onion skins. Other Easter egg deliverers in German-speaking countries included, the Easter rooster (Saxony), the stork (Thuringia) and the Easter chick. Unfortunately in the past several decades these animals have found themselves with continual less delivery jobs as <em>der Osterhase </em>has gained more wide-spread fame.</p><p>It&#39;s only in recent years that I&#39;ve seen miniature Easter trees being sold in North America. This Easter tradition from Germany is probably my favorite. Beautifully decorated Easter eggs are hung on branches in a vase in the home or on trees outside adding a splash of colour to spring&#39;s palette.</p><p>This delicious baked cake in the form of a lamb is a sought-after treat during Easter season. Whether made simply, such as with <em>Hefeteig</em> (yeast dough) only or with a rich creamy filling in the center, either way the <em>Osterlamm</em> is always a hit with kids. You can find a great assortment of Easter lamb cake recipes at <a href="http:/" data-component="link" data-source="inlineLink" data-type="internalLink" data-ordinal="1">Osterlammrezepte</a>.</p>This custom is practiced in a few regions in northern Germany. For this tradition, hay is stuffed into a large wooden wheel, then lighted and rolled down a hill at nighttime. A long wooden pole pulled through the wheel&#39;s axle helps it keep its balance. If the wheel reaches all the way to the bottom intact, then a good harvest is predicted. The city of Lügde in Weserbergland prides itself as being the <i>Osterradstadt</i>, since it has followed this tradition yearly for over a thousand years.Rolling eggs down a hill is also tradition in Germany and other German-speaking countries, found in games such as <i>Ostereierschieben</i> and <i>Eierschibbeln.</i>Just like Germany&#39;s wonderful <i>Weihnachtsmärkte</i>, its <i>Ostermärkte</i> also can&#39;t be beat. A stroll through a German Easter market will tantalize your tastebuds and delight your eyes as artisans, artists and chocolatiers showcase their Easter art and treats.