Easter in Vienna
I've always found Easter an inspiring holiday in the Christian tradition. The story goes from the depths of darkness and hopeless of Good Friday and Holy Saturday (Savior is dead, Tomb is full) to the miracle of Easter Sunday where the Tomb is found empty. Regardless your background, I think there's something that really speaks to us about that experience of things being darkest just before there's light.
The past year has certainly taught us some of that. Austria put in place a third lockdown from April 1 to April 11--basically a bid to try to decrease travel and activity on Easter. The main concern is the rising percentage of full ICU beds in Vienna in particular. It seems (knock on wood) to be showing some early success, but of course is a disappoint to the people here who would have much preferred to see family and to have enjoyed some of Vienna's storied Easter Bonfires. For me, individually, the change has been hard to notice--groceries and drug stores are still open and many restaurants are still doing take out. The only places newly closed are retail, hair cutteries, etc. In theory, there is a 24-hour curfew--stay indoors if you can, but the government allows you to get out and about if there's shopping, exercise, or necessary work to do. Maybe it says something about my introversion but that's mainly what gets me out anyway!
After more than a year without being able to attend a Church in person, I sat in on Mass at St. Stephen's Cathedral this morning. It was the German service, but I was able to follow along. Mass is mass. It was inspiring to hear the Hallelujah Chorus played on the organ in the cathedral, which my video in no way does credit to. If it were not the day it was, I would have been tempted to bring my mobile kit to capture it. Nevertheless, I managed to capture some photos of the service on Camera+.
Fell in love with all the interesting desserts that groceries sell around Easter. In particular, I tried an Osterlamm--or Easter Lamb cake--for breakfast this morning. The metaphor intended of course is that, as Jesus is the Lamb in Christian theology ("this is my body, given for you"), this Lamb is intended to be eaten in a similar means. The idea of a sacrificial lambs have since been used widely in both Christian and Jewish theology, featuring in hymns, paintings and celebrations, although a lamb cake can probably be dated back to pre-Christianity when they replaced the killing of live animals in rituals.
Great explanation of the tradition here from the Local:
The idea of a sacrificial lambs have since been used widely in both Christian and Jewish theology, featuring in hymns, paintings and celebrations, although a lamb cake can probably be dated back to pre-Christianity when they replaced the killing of live animals in rituals....For those not keen on carrying out real life sacrifices, the Osterlamm cake is a more child-friendly option.The cake itself is normally made of a sweet spongy dough, similar to that used for the Austrian Gugelhupf, but it can also come in bread form and is more likely to feature at breakfast time then later in the day.
In any case, it was delicious. Last night, I also tried a seasonal Easter beer from here in Austria which was equally delightful.
I've been expanding my own personal repertoire of Austrian dishes--which are all, if I may say so (and I do!)--amazing. In a future blog, I'll talk a bit about the cuisine.
For those who celebrate, a very happy Easter!