Easter is around the corner, and in the Netherlands this festivity usually marks the beginning of spring time. The first rays of sunshine have broken through, flowers start to bloom and more and more time is spent outdoors. Easter is a widely celebrated family holiday in the Netherlands and it comes with some century old (and not so old) traditions. Read along to find out what Pasen (Easter) in the Netherlands looks like!
First and Second Easter day
For most children and students in the Netherlands Easter starts early, as Goede Vrijdag (Good Friday) is often a school holiday. And unlike many other countries there is both Eerste Paasdag (First Easter day) on Sunday, as well as Tweede Paasdag (Second Easter day) on Monday, which is a free day for everyone. That is why many families in the Netherlands take the opportunity to go on a mini-vacation during this long Easter weekend.
Originally, Easter used to be a much bigger event than Christmas in the Netherlands: it was the event of the year. Easter Sunday was the day people went to church and it had a more religious connotation. Second Easter Day was a day of entertainment and festivities. Nowadays, many Dutch love to spend Tweede Paasdag doing what they are good at: bargain hunting at the woonboulevard (home center).
Bunny or Hare? Dutch Easter traditions
The most typical way to celebrate Easter in the Netherlands, is with a festive Paasontbijt (Easter breakfast) or Paasbrunch (Easter brunch). This feast usually consists of small buns and bread rolls with all sorts of beleg (bread toppings), croissants, and a delicious Paasstol: a Dutch Easter bread with raisins, filled with almond paste and topped with almonds and powdered sugar. And of course, a real Paasontbijt is not complete without..eggs! Eieren beschilderen (egg painting) is a very loved tradition in the Netherlands, especially among children. The colorfully painted eggs give the breakfast table just that little extra.
After the Paasontbijt or Paasbrunch, it is time for paaseieren zoeken! (Easter egg hunt). In the Netherlands, it’s not a bunny that hides the chocolate eggs, but a hare. Paashaas (easter hare) sounds just a little more catchy than Paaskonijn (easter bunny), right?
In the northern and eastern parts of the Netherlands, Paasvuren (Easter bonfires) traditionally occur. This tradition is believed to originate from pre-Christian times. During this imposing phenomenon, huge piles up to 45 meters made of wood, trees and branches are built and set on fire during twilight, which makes an impressive sight. The paasvuren symbolize new life and new beginnings.
Are you curious to try a delicious piece of paasstol or to catch a glimpse of the mysterious Dutch Paashaas? The diverse Dutch language courses by Learndutch not only make you familiar with the dutch language, but also give you a taste of the culture and traditions that the Netherlands has to offer. Check out our Dutch languange course offer and pick your favorite!