Where Did The Easter Tree Tradition Come From?

This decorative tradition has European roots.

Southern tradition predicts that your mother likely has a photo of you in your Easter Sunday best, standing beside a juvenile dogwood tree adorned with colorful Easter eggs.

While this technicolor tradition may seem cut from the cloth of a Southern story, you can trace its roots to another country entirely—Germany.

There, it's known as Ostereierbaum or Easter egg tree. It's also popular in neighboring Poland, Austria, and Hungary.

One of the most popular Ostereierbaum once stood in a little town called Saalfeld, Germany. There, for 50 years, Volker Kraft decorated an apple tree, adding more eggs each year as the tree grew. A year before the tree tradition ended in 2015, it held 10,000 eggs, all hand-decorated by Kraft and his family over the years.

But that Easter tree doesn't hold a candle—or an egg—to one in Pomerode, Santa Catarina, Brazil. In the Guinness World Record race for the largest Easter egg tree, a pecan tree took the top spot in 2017 for displaying over 80,000 painted hen eggs.

Lost over time, the origin story of the Easter egg tree tradition is unclear, but the practice is centuries old. Of course, eggs are a long-held symbol of life, and Easter happens to fall during Earth's rebirth in spring. The tree decorating ritual may have been a way to welcome the arrival of new blooms, buds, and chirping birds.

In the U.S., Easter trees are especially popular in the Pennsylvania Dutch region. Still, you can find pockets of the South that embrace the tradition too—or even a person down the street who thinks it's lovely. (We certainly do.)

How To Make Your Own Easter Egg Tree

Homemade Easter Egg Tree
Westend61/Getty Images

Tree decorating doesn't have to be reserved only for Christmas. Carrying on the Easter tree decorating tradition is a unique way to celebrate the season. Outdoor trees are the most visible, but many set up Easter trees inside.

If you'd like to make your own for your centerpiece or mantel this year, collect a few budding branches from your yard, or look for artificial ones at your local craft store.

Arrange them in a large vase, pail, or even a pretty watering can. You may need some filler like beads, sand, or stones to hold the branches in place. If the stems are real, add water, and the buds might continue to bloom during Easter.

Then, decorate your Easter egg tree however you'd like. Plastic, wooden, natural, or painted, you can't go wrong with a beautiful Easter egg tree. You can color coordinate with your china or let the rainbow inspire your kids.

If you like the idea of an outdoor Easter egg tree but don't have a sapling or juvenile tree you can reach easily, consider decorating bushes or shrubs instead. You could also buy topiaries for your porch, popping a few eggs into the greenery for a burst of festiveness.

Several companies now punch holes at either end of the plastic eggs, which makes for easy stringing. You can also tie a colorful ribbon through the center of the halved plastic egg, then shut it tight to keep the strand in place.

We've included a few of our favorite Easter egg tree decorating ideas (plus a few faux options) to bring the tradition into your home.

01 of 05

DIY Easter Candy Tree

Easter Branch Candy Tree
Laurey W. Glenn

Create a sweet centerpiece for Easter brunch. Curl colorful paper into a cone shape and attach a ribbon handle. After creating your containers, fill each with candies or other festive fillings.

02 of 05

Easter Egg Tree

West Elm Easter Egg Tree
Courtesy of West Elm

Wrap battery-operated fairy lights around this pre-decorated option for extra sparkle. The pastel and spring-hued tree is a charming addition to any table arrangement.

BUY IT: Easter Egg Tree, $50; westelm.com

03 of 05

18 in. Easter Eggs Table Tree

Home Depot Easter Egg Tree
Courtesy of The Home Depot

This festive tabletop tree brings a dose of cottage charm into your home. The pre-assembled Easter egg tree features sweet shades of colorful eggs branching from a burlap-covered base.

BUY IT: 18 in. Easter Eggs Table Tree, $38; homedepot.com

04 of 05

White Birch Tabletop Bonsai Tree

Easter Tree Walmart
Courtesy of Walmart

Decorate these faux birch trees with Christmas ornaments, and then revamp their look for Easter with pastel eggs. These tabletop trees add a whimsical glow to your Easter decor.

BUY IT: White Birch Tabletop Bonsai Tree, $26.99 for a set of 2; walmart.com

05 of 05


Afloral forsythia
Courtesy of Afloral

For an alternate look, arrange a bushel of faux spring branches in a vase and hang eggs from festive ribbons. We like varieties like forsythia, dogwood, pussy willow, or quince.

BUY IT: Yellow Faux Spring Flowers Forsythia Branch, $18.55 each; afloral.com

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles