Catholic Activity: Easter Customs of the Russian Germans
Here the traditional blessing of the Easter foods and the Russian German version of the Easter Rabbit are described.
After the long Lenten season of fasting, on Easter Sunday morning it is customary in the villages to take foods to the church to be blessed, fancy cakes or breads, eggs and fruits being chosen for the occasion. These foods are placed on the Communion rail or on a convenient table and are blessed by the priest. The significance of this is that the delicacies which the people have denied themselves during Lent are given back to them by the Church with her blessing at Easter.
Another Easter custom, popular with the children, is that of the Easter Rabbit. This custom is found in many cultures but the Russian Germans have a few distinctive variations in connection with it. On Holy Saturday evening, the mother of the family arranges plates in a room which is later locked, where the Easter Rabbit is to place cookies, candy, and Easter eggs for the children. After Mass on Easter Sunday, the children, led by their father, armed with clubs and pepper shakers line up in front of the locked door to capture this "Santa Claus" Rabbit, so as to have him provide them with sweets through the year. Unfortunately, the good Rabbit is never caught and, after the father has explained its strategic escape, the children enter the room exclaiming, "Der Has hat schon (gelegt") (the rabbit has laid).
Activity Source: Your Home, A Church in Miniature by Compiled by The Family Life Bureau in the early 1950s, The Neumann Press, Long Prairie, Minnesota, 1994