Easter is a particularly colourful time, when nature begins to bloom and bushes are festooned with multicoloured Easter eggs. As well as custom and tradition, many families enjoy taking a trip out and about in the area.
The many beautifully decorated Easter wells in Franconian Switzerland are a particular draw. Decorating the village wells is a longstanding tradition here. According to oral history, the custom goes back to the beginning of the 20th century. Before the wells are decorated, they are first cleaned in a ceremony knows as “Brunnen fegen”, or sweeping the well. While it used to be a job for young lads, these days it tends to fall to the women who decorate the wells, or their husbands, sometimes as part of an organised club. Once clean, the well is decorated, and this is spoken of as “Brunnen putzen”, or dressing the well.
The practice of decorating the wells and springs at Easter harks back to religious beliefs and the importance of water as a life-giving force – especially for the arid high plains of Franconian Switzerland. The Easter water used to be ascribed special powers. It was thought that infants who were baptised with newly dedicated water at Easter would grow up to be very clever. People also believed that drinking Easter water offered protection against illness and spraying Easter water in the house deterred pests.
Discover Franconia’s hinterland on a gentle bicycle tour and visit these impressive Easter wells. In over 200 places in Franconian Switzerland, from Good Friday until about two weeks after Easter, countless wells are adorned with thousands of gaily painted eggshells along with colourful flowers, wreaths and garlands. You can combine an excursion in this region with visits to the nearby historic cities of Bamberg, Nuremberg, Forchheim or Erlangen.