traditions

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An oak wheel stuffed with straw is set on fire and rolled down a hill to celebrate the Easter Wheel (Osterrad) tradition in certain parts of Germany such as in the Northern coast, in the Harz mountains, or in the Austrian alps. This event is believed to have originated from an old Heathen Tradition, where the “Osterrad” corresponds to the Sunwheel.

This life is a dance. Sometimes I think I have found my groove only to discover the music has changed and I am out of rhythm. The steps I am learning how to perfect are the ones I take in stillness. I hear the music. I feel the pulsating beat of life sway my body. I may not pirouette, twirl, or prance. Yet my heart is leaping bounds further than my body could ever imagine. This is the dance that is most sacred to me, and somehow the one that takes the most practise. #lifeisagift #dance #dancer #india #spitivalley #himachelpradesh #buddhism #tibetanbuddhism #traditions #culture #travel #traveling #spirituality #sacred #heart #monk #chamdance #blackhatdance #_soi #gods #meditation #monastery

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Since the marriage equality decision, we’re obsessed with weddings! These are just a few things we’ve been pinning on our Pinterest board, “Marriage.” 

We want to know how are gay and lesbian couples redefining or changing weddings? New traditions? The fashion? The cakes? The invites? Share with us your wedding stories & photos and they might end up in an article we are working on! 

To check out our Pinterest Marriage board, click here. 

To share your stories and photos, message us here, on FB, or Twitter

Easter traditions in Germany are similar to those in other Christian countries, from the religious commemoration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ to the Easter bunny. They include: 

Das Osterfeuer. Many Germans, especially in the North, gather around large bonfires on the eve of Easter Sunday. The wood of old Christmas trees and garden debris from the long winter is used for this occasion and collected in one place to be lit. This tradition actually is an old Pagan ritual dating back to before Christ to symbolize the coming of spring, driving out the evil spirits of winter, etc. 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.

Der Osterhase. The concept of the Easter bunny is believed to have originated in Germany. The first known account of it is found in the 1684 notes of a Heidelberg professor of medicine, where he discusses the ill effects of eating too many Easter eggs. German and Dutch settlers brought the tradition with them to other parts of the world. 

Der Osterfuchs and others. In some parts of Germany, children wait for the Osterfuchs instead of the bunny. They’ll hunt for his yellow eggs on Easter morning which are dyed with onion skins. Other Easter egg deliverers include roosters (Saxony), storks (Thuringia), and chicks. In the past few decades they have become less popular as the bunny has taken over most of the country. 

Der Osterbaum. Beautifully painted Easter eggs are hung on tree branches in a vase in the house or on a tree in the garden. 

Das Osterlamm. There are cakes in the shape of a lamb. Some families might eat actual lamb as well, even though this is not a popular meat in Germany.

Das Osterrad. This custom is practiced in some regions of Northern Germany. 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’s axle helps it keep its balance. If the wheel reaches all the way to the bottom intact, a good harvest is predicted. The city of Lügde in the Weserbergland prides itself as being the Osterradstadt, since it has followed this tradition yearly for over a 1000 years.

Die Osterspiele. Rolling eggs down a hill and the traditional egg hunts for kids are German customs.

Der Ostermarkt. Similar to Germany’s Weihnachtsmärkte for Christmas, there also are some Ostermärkte with special foods, artisian eggs, and other decor.

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A German tradition of decorating trees and bushes with Easter eggs is known as the Ostereierbaum, or Easter egg tree. A notable example is the Saalfelder Ostereierbaum (Saalfeld Easter egg tree), an apple tree located in the garden of Volker Kraft in Saalfeld, Thuringia.

Kraft and his family have been decorating the tree since 1965, starting with just 18 plastic eggs. This had been a childhood dream of Volker Kraft since he saw his first Easter “tree”, a lilac bush which he passed on the way to school as a youth in 1945.By 1994 the Krafts had increased the number of eggs to about 350 pieces. As the tree grew, they needed more eggs for decorating. The Krafts blew out almost all the eggs used in their household during the year and reused the eggs each year.

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Why Austrians Set the Alps Ablaze
(By Andrew Curry; Photographs by Robbie Shone, National Geographic Creative) 

    […] Mountaintop fires are popular across the Alps. They have their roots in pagan ceremonies marking the summer solstice, along with signal fires that were used to communicate with other villages before the advent of the telephone. In most areas, fires still mark the longest day of the year.
    The Herz Jesu celebrations, however, are specific to Tyrol. In 1796 the region was threatened with invasion by French troops under Napoleon. As thousands of Tyrolean volunteers organized local militias to defend their homeland, representatives formed a parliament and decided to dedicate Tyrol to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The German Nibelungen (with the corresponding Old Norse Niflung/Niflungr) is the name in Germanic and Norse mythology of the royal family or lineage of the Burgundians who settled in the early 5th century at Worms. The vast wealth of the Burgundians is often referred to as the Niblung hoard. In some German texts Nibelung appears instead as one of the supposed original owners of that hoard, either the name of one of the kings of a people known as the Nibelungs, or as the name of a dwarf. In Richard Wagner’s opera cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen (1848-1874), it denotes a dwarf, or perhaps a specific race of dwarves. The earliest probable surviving mention of the name is in the Latin poem Waltharius, believed to have been composed around the year 920. Read more about the German tradition here. 

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    May celebrations in Germany are called “Tanz in den Mai” or “dance into May”. These include a variety of events such as setting up the “Maibaum”, or Maypole.
    A Maypole is a tall wooden pole erected as a part of various European folk festivals, around which a maypole dance often takes place.
    The tradition of setting up a Maypole dates back to the 13th century and was customary as a religious practice in Austria, Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg to represent new life, the beginning of Spring and the Earth awakening from Winter’s sleep.
    The tree trunk of the Maypole is decorated with a garland made of spruce branches, one or two wreaths, as well as blue and white bands (seen mainly in Bavaria).
    The hand-crafted wooden figures, guild symbols and painted pictures that decorate the trunk reflect upon and tell the story of the village or town in which it is located.