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Easter Sunday in the Netherlands

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.

Is Easter Sunday a Public Holiday?

Easter Sunday is a public holiday. It is a day off for the general population, and schools and most businesses are closed.

In 2020 it falls on a Sunday. Due to this, some businesses may choose to follow Sunday opening hours.

Easter Eggs and Flowers

Easter eggs are made for children on Easter Day.

©iStockphoto.com/Lisa Thornberg

What Do People Do?

Easter is a time to celebrate for many people. Observant Christians make a special effort to attend a church service. Easter Sunday church services are often longer than usual and may conclude with a festive meal. Easter fires (paasvuren) are held in rural areas in the northern and eastern parts of the Netherlands.

Many people prepare an Easter breakfast, brunch or lunch with a range of seasonal and luxurious foods to share with family members, friends or neighbors. Foods served include: boiled, poached or fried eggs; paasstol (a rich loaf of bread filled with raisins, nuts and marzipan); butter made into the shape of a lamb; butter flavored with herbs; bread; croissants; cheese; ham; 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.

Public Life

Public life in the Netherlands is very quiet on Easter Sunday. As on other Sundays, banks, post offices and many businesses are closed. Some stores in tourist areas may be open but many are closed. Public transport services run to a normal or slightly reduced Sunday timetable.

Background

Easter Sunday is a time for Christians to celebrate Jesus' resurrection after his death by crucifixion. It is a time of celebration following the solemn period of fasting, known as Lent (vastentijd), and the days of mourning Good Friday and Holy Saturday. The origins of Easter lie in the Jewish observance Passover. However, many of the rituals and symbols around Easter can be traced back to pre-Christian beliefs in much of Europe.

Symbols

A common symbol of Easter Sunday is a cross, often decorated with flowers or young leaves. Eggs are also symbolic of Easter for many people. Real eggs and eggs made of chocolate or candy are hidden and eaten. Children are told that the eggs are delivered and/or hidden by a mythical figure known as the Easter hare who wears clothes, walks on his back legs and carries eggs in a basket on his back.

New leaves, spring flowers, birds, particularly chickens and chicks, and lambs or other newborn animals are also symbols of Easter. These represent the "rebirth" of nature as winter ends and spring begins. In addition, lambs represent the sacrifice made by Jesus. Some people combine a number of these elements to make a table decoration known as a Easter piece (paasstuk). Children often make these at school and present them to their parents.

About Easter Sunday in other countries

Read more about Easter Sunday.

Easter Sunday Observances

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday Type
2015SunApr 5Easter SundayNational holiday
2016SunMar 27Easter SundayNational holiday
2017SunApr 16Easter SundayNational holiday
2018SunApr 1Easter SundayNational holiday
2019SunApr 21Easter SundayNational holiday
2020SunApr 12Easter SundayNational holiday
2021SunApr 4Easter SundayNational holiday
2022SunApr 17Easter SundayNational holiday
2023SunApr 9Easter SundayNational holiday
2024SunMar 31Easter SundayNational holiday
2025SunApr 20Easter SundayNational holiday

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