It’s almost Easter! That means it’s time to put your kid hat on — the one that helps you pretend that you still believe in the Easter Bunny, Santa, and resurrections — so that you can still participate in the excessive chocolate eating, egg-hunting, and… willow-tree arranging?!
What the fallibilism does that have to do with Easter? Well, whilst the Dutch maintain some of the common chocolate-eating and egg-hunting habits of the Easter tradition, they have some unique Easter traditions of their own…
Easter, or Pasen, mainly covers two days in The Netherlands, and, surprisingly, given the Dutch obsession with having lots of holidays, there is no ‘Good Friday’. Instead, the Dutch simply celebrate Eerste Paasdag (Easter Sunday) and Tweede Paasdag (literally Second Easter Day: Easter Monday).
On Easter Sunday morning, most Dutch children begin to paint the eggs that the bunny has brought them, before hunting down the elusive chocolate eggs that mummy has brought them.
Many families will then sit around a table decorated with tulips, painted eggs, and candles, ready for what the Dutch call Paasbrunch: Easter brunch. The centrepiece, however, is a vase stuffed full of pussy willow. Yes, willow branches (paastakken).
I’m not certain of their significance, but I’ve overheard parts of a Dutch conversation yesterday that may enlighten some: pussy… helps… with… the rising… The rising of Jesus, of course!
The brunch consists of a Paasbrood—which is a dense, artery-clogging fruit-and-almond bread special—bread rolls, bunny-shaped butter, hard-boiled eggs (surprise!), smoked salmon, and smoked eel (surprise?).
The town centre is a ghost town on Easter Sunday. The Dutch like to spend time with their families, and stay inside celebrating for much of the day.
Monday, conversely, is madness. It is the social day, and, if the weather is good, many Dutch people go biking in the countryside (what better way to celebrate than to do something that you’d do any other day but on worse terrain?) or spend time at the public parks or theme parks.
The only thing missing is a hot-cross bun. Yep. The Dutch don’t do hot-cross buns. The closest things they have are krentenbollen, but even they don’t compensate for the fact that hot-cross buns… just… I want to cry…
For now, Prettige Paasdagen! Next year, who knows, if I pour enough hot water down enough rabbit holes, Groningen will be overrun with hot-cross bunnies…