Celebrating Easter in the Netherlands: all you need to know

From Sinterklaas to Koningsdag, the Netherlands can be quite a festive place (perhaps to distract from the dull weather, but who knows.) However, not all Dutch holidays are alien to internationals, the Netherlands also celebrates Easter!  

That being said, Easter can be celebrated quite differently (or not at all) depending on where in the world you’re from — so what does it look like in the land of cheese, clogs, and windmills

Easter dates in the Netherlands: 2021

Good Friday: April 2

Easter Sunday (Eerste Paasdag): April 4

Easter Monday (Tweede Paasdag): April 5

Easter in the Netherlands 

Easter in the Netherlands is celebrated in a similar fashion to many western countries: there’s chocolate eggs, big brunches, and even a day or two off work. 

Like elsewhere, the holiday is stretched across Good Friday (Goede Vrijdag), Easter Sunday (Eerste Paasdag), and Easter Monday (Tweede Paasdag). But there are also aspects of this holiday that the Dutch do differently. 

Easter symbols and decorations

Yes, Easter symbols and decorations are a thing in many countries — but let’s just say the Dutch are a bit extra when it comes to letting everyone know that it’s Easter time. 

You’ll find that shops, supermarkets, and tables are decked out with what can only be described as an Easter christmas tree. Willow branches are decorated with delicately painted, precariously hung egg shells as well as all manner of cute mini bunnies, butterflies, and baby animals! 

Decorations are hung like on a Christmas tree! Image: BrigitteSchellens/Pixabay

Easter food 

Speaking of baby animals you’ll find them everywhere at Easter time in the Netherlands. No, not real ones (although lambs may be an unfortunate exception to this). These animal babies are often of the miniature and edible kind — picture miniature bunnies from chocolate, lambs crafted out of butter, and chicks made out of sugar.

While we’re on the topic of miniatures and food, in the Netherlands, school children (the miniature) will often have a day where they bring Easter breakfast boxes (the food) into school. Pupils fill a shoe box with ingredients for a tasty breakfast and bring it to class with them. (Cuuuuuteee, that won’t be messy at all.) 

Easter Sunday in the Netherlands 

Easter Sunday in the Netherlands — or as the Dutch call it, Eerste Paasdag, usually consists of a tasty breakfast (Paasontbijt) or brunch (Paasbrunch) featuring the precarious Easter Christmas tree, assorted mini animals and of course, Paasbrood. 

The secret is in the topping! Image: Franklin Heijnen/Wikimedia Commons/CC2.0

This tasty Easter bread is strangely similar to Kerstbrood (Christmas bread). Both are filled with cinnamon, raisins, and almond paste but the difference lies in the details! Where Kerstbrood is topped with icing sugar, Paasbrood is also often topped with orange peel and almonds

Dutch Easter egg hunts 

Of course, there is the all important Easter egg hunt. However, beware ladies and gentlemen (specifically expat parents) in the Netherlands there is NO EASTER BUNNY. 

It’s the Easter hare, not bunny. Image: Vincent Van Zalinge/Unsplash

In this country, it’s an Easter Hare, or Paashaas. Don’t worry though, he still does his job and sets up a nice hunt for the kiddos. 😉 


Easter Monday in the Netherlands 

Easter Monday or second Easter, as the Dutch call it, is a bank holiday in the Netherlands.

As the kids munch on their chocolate eggs and start bouncing off the ceiling, parents can take a chill pill and know that they can enjoy a day off after Easter Sunday — unless their boss is a bit een beetje dom.  

Let’s wrap up with the important points: you are likely to have a day off (yay!), there’s lots of delicious food (fab!) and for the love of god, it’s the Paashaas not the Easter bunny. 

How do you celebrate Easter, if at all? Tell us in the comments below! 

Feature Image: Gabe Pierce/Unsplash

Sarah O'Leary 🇮🇪
Sarah originally arrived in the Netherlands due to an inability to make her own decisions — she was simply told by her mother to choose the Netherlands for Erasmus. Life here has been challenging (have you heard the language) but brilliant for Sarah, and she loves to write about it. When Sarah is not acting as a safety threat to herself and others (cycling), you can find her sitting in a corner of Leiden with a coffee, trying to sound witty.

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