We’ve all heard of Christmas trees, but festive foliage now has a spring rival – in the form of the Easter tree.
Although they sound like something that probably originated in the US, Easter trees are actually a centuries-old German tradition – although they’ve been growing increasingly popular over the pond in the States, and now the trend is catching on in the UK too.
Also called Easter egg trees (‘osterbaum’ in German), they’re simply tree branches – either standing in a vase inside your home, or a living tree outdoors – decorated with colourful little Easter eggs or Easter ornaments.
The eggs can be real ones that are hollowed out, blown and painted, or plastic, wooden or chocolate ones. The idea is that eggs symbolise life, so the trees are a symbol of new life as springtime kicks in. That said, they don’t just pop up at Easter – egg trees are even decorated at Christmas, for the summer solstice and May Day.
The famous Saalfelder Easter tree
The most well-known example of an Easter egg tree was perhaps Saalfelder Ostereierbaum, an apple tree in the garden of Volker Kraft in Saalfeld, Germany.
Kraft and his family decorated the tree between 1965 and 2015, starting with just 18 plastic eggs. Over the years. they hung an average of 700 eggs a year, and by 2012 there were more than 10,000 eggs on the tree. Kraft then said no more would be hung, before the eggs were eventually taken down around 2015.
How to make your own Easter tree
For an indoor Easter tree, just put a floral oasis, or pebbles and water, in a vase or ice bucket and arrange freshly-cut tree branches – with buds on if possible – in it. Branches from magnolia or cherry trees look lovely.
Then use a large needle to carefully make two holes in the top of whatever type of egg you’re hanging, and use the needle to thread ribbon or cotton through the holes to hang the eggs on the branches. Colourful Easter decorations look nice too – get the kids to draw, cut out and colour in bunnies, chicks and eggs to hang on the tree inside. Alternatively, simply hang eggs and waterproof Easter decorations on a tree or bush in the garden.
How to blow real eggs
Have a crafty afternoon at home to make your own egg decorations. Start by simply putting a small piece of sticky tape at both ends of an egg, and use a sewing needle to pierce a hole in the shell through the tape at both ends.
Then, through one of the holes, gently move the needle around inside the egg to break the yolk, and then put it up to your mouth and blow through the top hole – the egg contents should come out through the bottom (you’ll need to do this over a bowl to catch the insides as they come out!).
Once you’ve fully blown the egg, carefully remove the tape (you could give it a rinse through with water and gently pat it dry), and then decorate with brightly-coloured paint. Finishing with a coat of clear varnish is a good idea if possible.