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Coloured fountains: Towns in Franconia decorate their fountains with coloured Easter eggs

Decorated Easter Fountain in Amberg-Sulzbacher Land, © Landratsamt Amberg-Sulzbach
Decorated Easter fountain in Amberg-Sulzbacher Land, © Landratsamt Amberg-Sulzbach

The reasons for this custom of decorating fountains remain unclear. Besides Christian influences, water shortages in the region might have played their role. Until well into the 20th century it was very challenging to supply the remote villages of the relatively steep region with water. The inhabitants would therefore built cisterns and containers to collect the precious liquid, often protected with a solidly built well house, and would have rituals revolving around them.

Engelhardsberg, in the so-caled Franconian Switzerland region, is said to have displayed the first Easter fountain in 1913. Clubs in the participating villages are responsible for sweeping and decorating with their coloured works of art, prepared for several days or weeks. The fountains are decorated on Palm Sunday or Good Friday for a period of two to three weeks, depending on weather conditions.

According to the Guinness Book of Records, the world’s largest Easter fountain can be found in Bieberbach – with 11,108 hand painted eggs. The village welcomes some 30,000 tourists yearly during the 3 weeks the event lasts.

The "Franconian Switzerland" is located North of Nuremberg, in the triangle between Bayreuth, Bamberg and Erlangen. Its name is due to the relatively steep mountain landscape, which reminds of the Alps further South. The region is renowned, among other things, for its numerous caves, its cherry culture (the largest territory in Europe), and of course its Schnaps (cherry eau-de-vie).