Easter Sunday is a festive, family orientated day in the Netherlands. People prepare festive breakfasts, brunches or lunches. They may also search for and eat chocolate eggs that are supposedly delivered by the Easter hare.
What Do People Do?
Foods served include:
paasstol (a rich loaf of bread filled with raisins, nuts and marzipan);
boiled, poached or fried eggs;
butter made into the shape of a lamb;
butter flavored with herbs;
Dutch Easter bunny bread;
shrimps; smoked fish, particularly salmon or eel;
and sweets or chocolates in the shape of eggs or hares.
Later in the day, people may eat lamb, which is seen as symbolic of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Some people eat unleavened crackers, reminiscent of the matzo eaten during the Jewish observance of Passover.
Families with children may decorate boiled eggs and hide boiled or chocolate eggs around the house or garden. Children are told that these eggs have been delivered and/or hidden by the mythical Easter hare (paashaas). Some organizations organize Easter egg hunts. The prize for an Easter egg hunt contest is often a large chocolate model of a hare or a basket of Easter treats.
As schools are generally closed for a few days at Easter, families with children may take a short vacation at this time of year.
Easter Breakfast Box
If you have children at a Dutch primary school, they will probably have to make an Easter breakfast box which they will give to another child in their class. This is a shoe box beautifully decorated with Eastery things and should contain all the ingredients for a delicious breakfast. Some schools have banned jam and sweet things, white bread and even chocolate eggs… which is a little odd. But hey, a cheese sandwich can be festive as well.
The Dutch are very keen on Easter eggs and spring-related decorations, and many homes will put up willow branches hung with tiny wooden eggs and bows. Over the years these have become bigger and more elaborate, the supermarket shelves are groaning under ornaments.
Flowers at St Peter’s in Rome
The Dutch flower industry has for 29 years supplied the 42,000 tulips which are sent to Rome to decorate St Peter’s for the pope’s Easter day appearance. Every year the pope – wherever he comes from – says in his best Dutch ‘bedankt voor de bloemen’ – the highlight of the Dutch television news coverage.
There are, of course, Easter markets, special Easter brunches at restaurants and Easter events at amusement parks.
And there is the Paaspop festival which has taken place over the Easter weekend in the Noord-Brabant town of Schijndel since 1985. Paaspop, which attracts some 15,000 people, is seen as the unofficial start of the Dutch festival season.