Already spring has begun, and the city is brimming with new life. Grey skies or blue, it’s something you can sense—from walking through the forests of Allschwil, to the new songs the birds sing in the city, or the way the Tinguely fountains seem to have wakened from a long winter just in time to stretch out their arms and catch the sun.
And with this spring comes an early Easter, and the promise of restoration that it brings. As the church bells ring this Sunday morning, you’ll find yourself waking to a brand new celebration. And don’t forget: Daylight saving time begins Easter morning!
Here’s a quick sketch of what a typical Swiss Easter might look like…
It’s traditional in Switzerland to attend church in the morning, followed by brunch or dinner and a family celebration. A typical Easter menu could include lamb with potatoes; pastetli, a meat pie with mushrooms and cream sauce; chicken in lemon thyme butter; fish with couscous and yogurt sauce; pork, or rabbit.
Most children—and adults—also look forward every year to an Easter egg hunt. Eggs are usually painted the day before, and then in the morning are hidden outside in the park or garden, in the house, even inside boots and shoes! It’s uncommon to use plastic eggs, as Switzerland in general likes to keep things eco-friendly.
And don’t forget the Easter Bunny! Many children wake up on Easter morning to a magical nest or Easter basket filled with a chocolate bunny and eggs.
Basel whips up plenty of specialties just for Easter. Here’s a quick guide to a few of the seasonal favourites:
Biskuithässli and Biskuitlämmli: Bunny-shaped and lamb-shaped almond cookies with a delicate lemon flavour. Available in chocolate too.
Ostertauben: Pastry “doves” with candied fruit, hazelnuts, and almonds.
Osterfladen or Osterflädeli: A cross between a custard tart and a cake, often filled with rice pudding, speckled with raisins, and topped with frosting or powdered sugar. It can range from a very simple custard-like filling, to something more ornate with several layers of jam, cream, and nuts. Here’s a recipe via the Swiss Club of New South Wales. You can also learn how to make a breadier version on YouTube, thanks to @cakeclassics from Germany.
Praline Eier: Oversized candy eggs with a hard praline shell, filled with chocolates and decorated with piped frosting. Each boxed individually, these gourmet and somewhat costly praline eggs are given to close family and friends…a gift that tells a loved one just how very much they mean to you!
And everyone knows, Switzerland is the place to be for chocolate. Walk into any confiserie or bakery and you’ll be overwhelmed by all the choices—chocolate bunnies, candy eggs, marzipan carrots. Migros and Coop sell plenty favourites as well, from Lindt to Cailler, to Milka and beyond!
Easter and spring go perfectly hand in hand, bringing new life to the city that you can feel as you walk from shop to shop and from city square to city square. You’ll find extra special treats, flowers, and fashions in every shop, and in the open markets of Marktplatz and Barfüsserplatz. But don’t forget that shops keep different hours for the holidays: you may need to check opening times for Good Friday, Easter Sunday, and Easter Monday, but in a pinch you can find almost everything you need at the SBB train station shopping center.
A fun event you might want to catch this year is The 16th International Tango Festival OsterTango 2015! It will take place from 2 to 6 April, 2015 Hosted by the Basel Tango School, the event brings everyone together for a colourful weekend of music and dance, with a Tango Concert and Show, After Hours Tango, a special film presentation, DJs, and more. Don’t forget to stop by their website for tickets and more information.
There’s always something going on in Basel, and Easter brings much to do outside the ordinary. But of all it offers, maybe the best is opportunity—opportunity to be with family and friends, to relax, to party, to hike and bike, walk in the city or wander through the forest. You’re limited only by your creativity…and sometimes the weather!
What are you doing today to prepare for Easter? Are you colouring eggs with family and friends? Doing some last minute shopping for chocolate bunnies and flowers, or just relaxing at home? We’d love to hear how you’re celebrating this year!