Spring is right around the corner, and Germany is getting ready for Easter.

While traditionally a religious holiday, Easter is one of the most popular holidays for churchgoers and non-religious affiliated Germans alike. Since Christian and pagan rituals are now so intertwined it only makes sense for everyone to take part in the celebrations, besides who does not like a couple extra days off.

Easter markets are a popular thing and pop up on almost every weekend luring eager shoppers to the city center. Most of the public gardens and parks open up right around the beginning of spring also and will enchant with beautiful flowers and walks during the first warmer days.

The sights in the stores are quite similar to back in the States; shelves are stocked with Easter chocolates, Easter bunnies and colorful eggs. Easter themed stuffed animals and books will get you in the right mood. Most garden centers start carrying the colorful spring bloomers like tulips, primroses and daffodils and fun Easter decorations.

In the weeks before Easter, schools and kindergardens will be doing arts and craft projects for Easter like painting eggs and growing little grass gardens. One of the more popular crafts is to blow out raw eggs and color them to later hang them on Easter trees or branches.

The obligatory coloring of hard boiled eggs is popular in Germany as well as the baking of Easter lambs and bunnies. The Easter lamb is made from a light sponge cake that is baked in a lamb shaped form and then decorated with powdered sugar and a bell or a little Christian flag. Most bakeries will also sell those in the days before Easter Sunday. Bakeries also offer Easter breads, usually a sweet yeast dough decorated with eggs, or Easter bunnies made from sweet bread.

Spring break is also beginning around the Easter holidays and runs for two weeks. Many families do opt out of the traditional Easter celebrations for a quick getaway.

Commonly the Easter weekend starts off with the Good Friday and the official end of the fasting period. Most families have a traditional meal on Good Friday that often consists of fish, but not everyone follows these customs.

Many Germans also light large bonfires on Saturday night and spend the evening with friends and family.

While Americans celebrate Easter with large Easter egg hunts, Germans are more likely to celebrate the day at home with family. Eggs, chocolate bunnies and small gifts are placed in little Easter baskets and hidden around the house or yard for the children to find. Little kids are told stories about the Easter Bunny delivering their goodies and hiding them. Later on, a nice feast is enjoyed by all guests.

Easter Monday as the last holiday is usually celebrated by visiting extended family or just spending the day outside.

We do wish you a wonderful Easter weekend from all of us here at Together Magazine.