The Easter bunny and the egg hunt - around Easter, Luxembourg is full of events and traditions that are well known in the world. But have you ever heard of the Jaudes or the Éimaischen? This is how Easter is celebrated in Luxembourg.
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.
The eggs are first cooked, then coloured and hidden by the Ouschterhues (Easter Bunny). Children then have great fun finding them as part of the traditional egg hunt. Today, chicken eggs are increasingly replaced with chocolate eggs.
Before eating their eggs, children play Técken (the battle of the eggs), in which a child hits their painted egg against that of their 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.
It is therefore up to the youngsters of the village to call the faithful to prayer with their Klibber (ratchet), a small wooden percussion instrument made with a toothed wheel that, when cranked, repeatedly strikes a flexible wooden strip. As it turns, they sing the Klibberlidd (ratchet song): 'Dik-dik-dak, dik-dik-dak, haut as Ouschterdaag' (dik-dik-dak, dik-dik-dak, today is Easter).
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 local tradition of 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 tradition, 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 Bretzelsonndeg (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 popular folk festival celebrated in the old quarter of Luxembourg City and in the village of Nospelt.
The Éimaischen is primarily a traditional market where folk groups and all sorts of handicraft are waiting to be discovered. It is famously known for its Péckvillecher, terracotta birds which imitate the cuckoo's calling when you blow into them. The origin of the Éimaischen as the potters’ market in Luxembourg City dates back to at least the 19th century.
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.
Public holidays and school holidays
Easter is celebrated on the Sunday following the first full moon of spring. The festival is always between 22 March and 25 April, which corresponds to the end of the second trimester for all children in fundamental school and in secondary education, who then enjoy two weeks’ school holidays.