Easter (‘Paas’) is a two-day public holiday here in Holland and traditional activities include Easter brunch, egg hunts for the kids and taking in a performance of Matthaus Passion.
From a Christian perspective, it is a celebration of Jesus’ resurrection, on the 3rd day following his crucifiction. It is a solemn period of fasting (vastentijd) and days of mourning Good Friday and Holy Saturday.
Observant Christians will attend church service and conclude with a festive meal. Traditional Easter fires (paasvuren) are held in some rural areas in the northern and eastern parts of the Netherlands.
Many families have Easter breakfast or brunch and partake in other activities which are planned over the long Easter weekend.
1) Music Events
“Easter without Matthäus Passion is like Christmas without a Christmas tree” a friend once said to me. On Good Friday and Holy Saturday the Residentie Orkest (The Hague Philharmonic Orchestra) performs Bach’s Matthäus Passion.
On Tweede Paasdag (Easter Monday) you can enjoy an afternoon performance of Händel’s Messiah at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam.
Paaspop is an Easter festival which runs Thursday to Saturday, 3rd-5th April. It is a music event in Schijndel (Noord-Brabant) that lasts three days and sees perform dozens of bands on several stages.
The Hip Fest on Thursday, 3rd April in the Keizerstraat (Scheveningen) with 25 mainly local bands performing on stage from 16:00-1:00hrs.
3) Easter Egg Hunts
In the Netherlands, similar to other European countries, it is a tradition to hide real painted and chocolate Easter eggs for children, which they then hunt for. This tradition is preceded by decorating Easter eggs before Easter Sunday. Several locations throughout South Holland offer Easter egg hunts including the S.S. Rotterdam (Rotterdam), Plaswijckpark (Rotterdam), Des Indes Hotel (The Hague), Barn47 (The Hague), Holiday Inn (Leiden), Kinderboerderij Hofsteden (Gouda) and Hampshire Hotel (Delft).
The hard-boiled and decorated eggs are cracked by doing an “eitje tik” (egg-tapping), which means that you would bang the pointed end of your hard-boiled egg against the egg of another person. – The one whose egg is still intact at the end, wins.
3) Easter Brunch
You can either enjoy a cozy Easter brunch with your family or join a gigantic open-air Easter brunch on a 300 metre long table in the Prins Hendrikstraat on Monday 6th April starting at 10:00. “Make sure to take your own non-disposable plate, cutlery and cup as well. This way the brunch will cut down on the amount of rubbish produced.”
Easter brunch is quite popular and you can find many on offer. Check the What’s On guide for suggestions.
4) Easter Market
On the Lange Voorhout in The Hague you can take a stroll on the Burgundian-style Home Made Market on Easter Sunday and Monday.
5) Easter Bonfire
In the East and North of the Netherlands, the tradition of the Easter eve bonfire is widespread. The Easter bonfire is part of secular and religious celebrations. “The fires were supposed to help chase the darkness and winter away. It was also a symbol of fertility, which works in a literal sense in that the ashes were scattered over the meadows and thereby fertilized the soil”. In the Netherlands, most of these fires take place in the provinces of Drenthe, Groningen and Gelderland. In Overijssel the Easter eve bonfire of Espelo made it into the Guinness Book of Records in 2012 with its 45,98 meters height!
6) Easter Races
If you are a motorsport fan, you can watch the Easter races at the Zandvoord race track. It is a circuit situated in the dunes and is considered one of the best tracks in Holland!