In Germany and Austria, it’s traditional to celebrate Easter by hanging hollow eggs from the branches of trees known as Ostereierbaum. It’s a custom that has gained popularity in recent years here in the UK, perhaps because it is a way of marking Easter with an alternative to gorging on chocolate eggs.
One particular German family has taken this tradition to extremes. Volker Kraft and his family have been decorating an apple tree in their garden with eggs each year since 1965. At first Kraft started out with a modest 18 eggs, which had increased to 350 by 1994. However, as the tree grew bigger, Kraft realized that more eggs were needed to complete the display, and by 2012 there were over 10,000 eggs hanging on this particular Easter Egg tree!
It takes Volker Kraft around 4 weeks to decorate the tree from start to finish and is a family affair with his wife and daughter both being involved in the process. Every single egg that hangs on the tree is mouth-blown and decorated either in one single colour or with more complex designs. Some of the eggs are covered in crochet to prevent weathering and damage while other particularly precious eggs are displayed in small protective display cases. Some are even donated by visitors who come to see the tree in all its glory.
If you feel like setting up your own ostereierbaum as a decorative item for your home, many gift shops stock branches and papier mache eggs for instant results and significantly less effort than the Kraft Easter Egg Tree. Alternatively you could make your own as a fantastic craft project for the whole family to enjoy.
To make your own Easter Egg Tree:
Simply collect some long sticks and twigs while out for a walk and place them in a vase or jug. You may want to put some stones or gravel at the bottom of the vase or jug to secure the stick branches in place. This forms your tree.
For the eggs, you can either use polystyrene eggs that you can buy from good craft suppliers, simply painted and decorated and threaded through with a loop of ribbon. Alternatively use real eggs. Real eggs will need to be blown. Make a hole at either end of the egg with a skewer and jiggle it around a bit inside to break up the yolk.
Next place your mouth over one end of the egg and position the other end over a bowl and gently blow out the egg from its shell. Once all the egg is removed, run it under the tap, give it a good shake and leave it to dry. Now it is ready to decorate.
Decorate the eggs in any way you please using food colouring, acrylic paint, stickers, glitter, feathers – let your creativity go wild! Children may like to personalise their eggs by painting their name onto it.
Once the eggs are dry, attach a ribbon to the egg, ready for hanging. To do this, centre a slipknot on a length of ribbon, and thread the ribbon ends through a large-eyed needle. Gently pass the needle through the holes at each end of the egg, and pull ribbon through. Before inserting the needle, decide which end of the egg will be the bottom; the hole from which the ribbon ends protrude will be the top of your egg.
Double-knot the ribbon above and below the egg, then tie the loose ends to a branch with a bow.