Apple Tree in Germany Festooned with 10,000 Eggs is Major Tourist Attraction
Enlarge image Festooned with 10,000 eggs, this apple tree in Saalfeld, Germany, draws thousands of visitors annually. (© picture-alliance/ZB) Among the most charming of German Easter traditions is decorating a tree, or some artfully arranged branches displayed indoors, with myriad colored eggs.
Pensioner Volker Kraft, 76, who resides in the eastern German town of Saalfeld, has however taken this traditon to a whole other level.
As recently reported by the Associated Press, he began decorating an apple sapling with just 18 eggs for Easter in 1965, a number that had risen to about 850 by 1995, and then went up to a whopping total of 9,800 by 2011.
The eggs on Kraft's tree are "artfully decorated with everything from sequins to sea shells," according to the AP report.
Enlarge image Some of pensioner Volker Kraft's hand-painted eggs from his collection with images of his hometown of Saalfeld, Germany. (March 2010) (© picture-alliance/dpa)
Now a major tourist attraction drawing thousands of visitors annually, the tree has reached what Kraft has deemed full capacity this year at 10,000 eggs in total.
At first he started using plastic eggs, but then eventually switched to real eggs. To use real eggs, according to German tradition, a small hole is punctured at the top and the bottom of each egg, which is then "blown out" via human lungpower into a bowl.
The empty, but intact eggs are then painted and decorated by young and old alike to often adorable effect. These decorated eggs can then be turned into dangling decorations via ribbons running through them.
Just like with most seasonal decorating in Germany, the hand-crafted annual egg initiative at the Kraft household was always a mutual effort involving the whole family.
Enlarge image Volker Kraft, 76, next to his "Osterbaum" (Easter Tree) in Saalfeld, Germany. (Spring 2012) (© picture-alliance/ZB)
"You can now see here what develops after 47 years, when the tree grows, the wife blows the eggs and the children start painting," Kraft told the Associated Press.
Some of the eggs depict images of his hometown of Saalefeld, located in the eastern German state of Thuringia (Thüringen), which is also home to legendarily delicious bratwurst and the stunning historic cities of Erfurt, Jena and Weimar, as well as the famous Wartburg Castle in Eisenach where Martin Luther hung out for a while in the 16th century and translated the New Testamaent from Greek into German.
As in the United States and other Christian countries, many Germans attend both Protestant and Catholic religious services on Easter Sunday.