As a predominantly Catholic nation, Easter (Ouschteren) is one of the most important holidays of the year for many Luxembourgers. Whether you believe that the holiday is about the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, or whether you just want to celebrate the return of Spring, Luxembourg has a wide range of interesting and fun traditions to take part in during this season.
The story of Easter starts three days before Easter Sunday, namely on Maundy or Holy Thursday (Gréngen Donneschdeg), which falls on March 24 this year. This day commemmorates the Last Supper of Jesus Christ and is also when the church bells of Luxembourg go silent as a sign of mourning. Legend has it that the bells fly to Rome where they receive shrift from the Pope.
D’Klacke ginn op Roum beichten. The bells are confessing their sins in Rome.
In order to make up for the lack of church bells, the kids (usually the altar boys and girls) go around the town and make a a loud rattling noise with ratchets all the while singing various songs. This is called klibberen. One of the songs is announcing which bells are currently “ringing”, morning, noon or evening:
D’Moiesklack laut, laut, laut. The morning bells are ringing, ringing, ringing.
D’Mëttesklack laut, laut, laut. The noon bells are ringing, ringing, ringing.
D’Owesklack laut, laut, laut. The evening bells are ringing, ringing, ringing.
The days leading up to Easter are perfect for painting eggs with your kids. You can buy a painting kit at your local supermarket or opt for natural dies and do it yourself.
Then, on Holy Saturday (Karsamschdeg) or Easter Sunday (Ouschtersonndeg), the rattling kids (Klibberkanner) go house to house to collect their reward in the form of coloured eggs or money. The church bells return from Rome on Ouschtersonndeg, March 27.
On Easter Sunday, parents usually hide all sorts of chocolate treats and coloured eggs (Ouschtereeër) in little homemade nests. The kids then go on an Easter egg hunt to find all the treats that the “Easter bunny” (Ouschterhues) brought them.
On Easter Monday (Ouschterméindeg), you absolutely have to visit the fair known as Eemaischen either in Luxembourg City or in Nospelt. Eemaischen is a century-old Luxembourg Easter tradition that gets its name from the biblical city of Emmaus. You can get food and drinks of course, but the real attraction is the bird-shaped flute made out of clay (Péckvillchen), the festive atmosphere and the demonstrations of pottery, especially in the town of Nospelt (map).
What better way to celebrate spring than with the colourful sounds of the Péckvillchen!
For more information on Easter in Luxembourg, including events and English speaking church services see here.
Copyright 2016:Liz Wenger Featured photo: Annie Spratt/unsplash