On Easter Sunday, large fires are lit at dusk in sections of Northwestern Europe. This practice extends northward into Denmark, Sweden and Finland, westward into the east of the Netherlands, southward into Switzerland and Austria, and eastward into the German Harz mountains.
It is a Saxon, pre-Christian tradition, that is still performed each year. There are several explanations of the meaning of these fires. The Saxons probably believed that around the time of Easter, Spring becomes victorious over Winter. The fires were supposed to help chase the darkness and winter away. It was also a symbol of fertility, which works in a literal sense in that the ashes were scattered over the meadows and thereby fertilized the soil. The pre-Christian meaning of Easter fires is hardly experienced anymore. Nowadays they are meant to bring the community together, which guarantees a pleasant night combined with the consumption of alcohol and snacks.
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