The way in which Luxembourgers celebrate Easter involves traditions shared with other countries, such as the religious aspect or the symbol of the rabbit and eggs, but there are also some specifically Luxembourgish traditions: Klibberen, the custom of Jaudes, the lovers’ egg, the Émaischen and Péckvillercher
A religious festival
In Luxembourg, where the majority of the population is Christian, Easter, the commemoration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, is one of the most important annual festivals.
A large proportion of practising Christians attend mass on Holy Thursday (Gréngendonneschden), Good Friday (Karfreiden) and Holy Saturday (Karsamsden), as well as the Matins of the Resurrection on Easter Sunday (Ouschtersonnden).
A family celebration
But Easter is also a family celebration. As in most countries, the Easter Bunny and Easter eggs are an integral part of Easter in the Grand Duchy.
Eggs and hares symbolise fertility, spring and renewal. Indeed, long before acquiring its Christian significance, Easter was a pagan holiday celebrated in honour of the goddesses of fertility.
The eggs are first cooked, then coloured, and finally hidden by parents so that their children can search for them at the traditional egg hunt. These days, the eggs are more likely to be made of chocolate (Luxembourgers get through 7.2 kg of chocolate per person every year, making them the fourth largest consumers of chocolate in Europe).
The legend has it that the Ouschterhues (Easter Bunny) brings them.
Before eating their eggs, children play Técken (the battle of the eggs), in which a child hits its painted egg against that of his neighbour. The child whose egg remains intact wins.
According to legend, the church bells fly off to Rome after mass on Holy Thursday to receive the Pope’s Easter blessing.
To take their place until their return and to call the faithful to religious services, children and young people (often members of choirs) go around the villages with their Klibber (rattle), a small percussion instrument made of wood, with a toothed reel that strikes a flexible wooden strip as it turns, and sing the Klibberlidd (rattling song): 'Dik-dik-dak, dik-dik-dak, haut as Ouschterdaag' (dik-dik-dak, dik-dik-dak, today is Easter day).
As a reward, the youngsters are given Easter eggs and sometimes money by local people on the morning of Easter Sunday.
The custom of Jaudes
The custom of Jaudes (celebration of the Dog Rose) is a custom local to Vianden, an Ardennes town in the north of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, celebrated on Good Friday.
'Jaudes' refers to both the festival and to a bouquet of wild rose thorns, paper flowers, ribbons, etc. According to custom, after completing their bouquet, boys from Vianden go to their neighbourhood at noon and burn their Jaudes.
This custom, celebrated since the Middle Ages, is inspired by the Apostle Judas. Its purpose is to show the people’s disapproval of the apostle who betrayed Jesus and whose fate was to be condemned, symbolically, to hell.
The Pretzel and the lovers’ egg
Women who received a pretzel on the Bretzelsonnden (Pretzel Sunday) are supposed to give an Easter egg in return on Easter Sunday as a sign of their love.
The Éimaischen and the Péckvillercher
On Easter Monday the traditional 'Éimaischen' (Feast of Emmaus) takes place. It is a folk festival celebrated in the old quarter of Luxembourg City (Place du Marché-aux-Poissons and surrounding area) and in the village of Nospelt.
Etymologically, the Éimaischen recalls the march of Jesus Christ’s disciples to Emmaus, the Palestine village near Jerusalem where Christ appeared to two of them before His Resurrection.
The origin of the Éimaischen as the potters’ market in Luxembourg City dates back at least to the 19th century. For a long time, Easter Monday coincided with the Potters’ Guild celebrations.
The first written reference to the Éimaischen dates from 3 April 1827, when it was decided to move the St. Michael’s Church Fair to the Marché-aux-Poissons.
After being suspended during the First World War, the old tradition of the Éimaischen was revived by the Alstad committee as from 1938. Since 1957, the festival has also been celebrated in Nospelt.
The Éimaischen is best known for its Péckvillercher, a sort of terracotta bird, a typically Luxembourg artefact, which makes a sound that can easily pass for the cry of the cuckoo.
Over the years, the 'Éimaischen' has become a meeting place, not only for potters but also for craftsmen of all kinds, enhanced by the presence of folk groups and opportunities for eating out.
Public holidays and school holidays
Easter is celebrated on the Sunday following the first full moon of Spring. The celebrations are always between 22 March and 25 April, which corresponds with the end of the second term for all children in primary school and in secondary education, who then enjoy two weeks’ school holidays.