On Sunday, 27 March 2016 Luxembourgers, like Christians everywhere, celebrate Easter. In the Grand Duchy, this celebration is before all a mix of traditions that are the same in many countries, such as the religious ceremonies and the symbolic eggs and Easter Bunny. However, some of these traditions are specifically Luxembourgish, such as the Klibberen, the Jaudes-custom, the lovers' egg, the Éimaischen and the 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 (Karsamsdeg), as well as the Matins of the Resurrection on Easter Sunday (Ouschtersonndeg).
A family celebration
But Easter is also a family celebration. As in most countries, the Easter Bunny (Ouschterhues) and Easter eggs (Ouschtereeër) 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. The legend has it that the Ouschterhues (Easter Bunny) hides them.
Before eating the eggs, Luxembourgers practice a very entertaining custom: the game is to clash (técken) two hard-boiled Easter eggs. He or she whose egg retains its intact shell the longest is crowned the winner.
Around the 7th century AD, the church decided to prohibit the ringing of the church bells between Holy Thursday and Easter Sunday, as a sign of mourning. 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 church 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: 'D'Moiesklack laut/d'Mëttesklack laut/d'Owesklack laut' (the morning/afternoon/evening bell is ringing).
On Easter Saturday, the young people go from door to door while singing the Klibberlidd (rattling song). 'Dik-dik-dak, dik-dik-dak, muer as Ouschterdag' (dik-dik-dak, dik-dik-dak, tomorrow's Easter Day). As a reward, they receive Easter eggs, candy or money.
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 Bretzelsonndeg (Pretzel Sunday) are supposed to give an Easter egg in return on Easter Sunday as a sign of their love. But be aware that as 2016 is a leap year, the tradition is reversed: Thus, it's the women's turn to offer a pretzel and the men's turn to offer an Easter egg.
The Éimaischen and the Péckvillercher
On Easter Monday, 28 March 2016, the 188th edition of the traditional Éimaischen (Emmäus Day), a traditional folkloric festival, will take place in the old quarter of Luxembourg City (Place du Marché-aux-Poissons and around), as well as in the village of Nospelt.
Etymologically, the Éimaischen recalls the march of Jesus Christ’s disciples to Emmäus, 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. On this Easter Monday, the market will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. in Luxembourg City. A number of folkloric groups is going to entertain the public in the morning on the forecourt of the National Museum of History and Art (Musée national d'histoire et d'art, MNHA). In Nospelt, festivities will take place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Here too, concerts and entertainment will enliven the atmosphere.
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.
(article written by the editorial team of the portal luxembourg.lu)