Easter in The Netherlands

As an international student in the Netherlands, you probably still have lots to learn about Dutch culture and celebrations. The SSH will tell you all about the Dutch celebration of Easter!

In the Netherlands, Easter is celebrated over the course of two days, called “Eerste en Tweede Paasdag”, which translates into First and Second Easter day. These always take place on a Sunday and a Monday, which means you get an extra day off work!
Easter fires are lit in Drenthe, Groningen, Overijssel, Twente, Friesland and Gelderland but there are all sorts of regional variations. There are also Easter markets, special Easter brunches at restaurants and Easter events at amusement parks. Most shops are closed on Easter Monday, so many Dutch people seem to consider visiting furniture stores to be a traditional Easter activity. Some shops are open, but may open later than usual. Festival lovers can visit The Paaspop festival which has taken place over the Easter weekend since 1985. Paaspop is seen as the unofficial start of the Dutch festival season.

During the two Easter days, Dutch families gather to share nice meals together. It is common to have a late Easter breakfast (or brunch), which consists of lots of eggs, bread, bread spreads, matsos and a “Paasstol”. This is a bread filled with dried fruits and almond paste. But most importantly, Easter is about eating lots and lots of chocolate. Around Easter, chocolate comes in all shapes and sizes, such as eggs, bunnies and sheep.

For many people in the Netherlands Easter is not about religion, but it is more a celebration of Springtime. Around this time of year every shop is full to the brim with pastel-colored bunnies, eggs and flowers. Many people put up willow branches hung with tiny wooden eggs and bows. You can also decorate your house with eggs you painted yourself!

Flower at St Peters in Rome
For 29 years, the Dutch flower industry has supplied the 42,000 tulips which are sent to Rome to decorate St Peters for the pope’s Easter day appearance. Every year the pope says in his best Dutch ‘bedankt voor de bloemen’ – the highlight of the Dutch television news coverage.