Easter is one of the most important Christian festivals celebrated all around the world with great zeal and enthusiasm. This day is celebrated as one of the most holy day of the Christian calendar as it was the day of resurrection of Jesus Christ after crucifixion. This day is said to be one of the most pious occasions in the Christian community. Though the celebration of Easter is very much similar throughout the world, there are few region specific rituals that make it slightly different.
Easter in Netherlands is very much like the rest of the western countries. However one remarkable Easter tradition in Netherland is the Easter Carnival. Easter in Netherland is marked by carnivals that proceed the fasting season of Lent. Preparations for the carnivals begin the previous year on 11th day of the 11th month, when a council of 11 meets to fine-tune the carnival plans. Carnivals feature colorful celebrations with dances, parades and masquerade balls. In each town a person is elected prince of the Carnival and he is handed the keys to the city.
On the Easter Sunday the city is very quiet and people are busy with the Church service (paasvuren) right from morning. Late in the noon, the Easter lunch is organized in the church that include boiled, poached or fried eggs; paasstol (a rich loaf of bread filled with raisins, nuts and marzipan); butter flavored with herbs; ham; shrimps; smoked fish, particularly salmon or eel; and sweets or chocolates in the shape of eggs or hares. Lamb is an exclusive Easter dish as it is symbolic of the death and resurrection of Jesus.
On Palm Zondag or Palm Sunday children scour the neighboring farms to collect eggs for the Easter sports. While setting out for the task, kids carry a decorated stick known as a Palmpaas or Easter "palm". This stick is attached to a hoop which is covered with boxwood and adorned with colored paper flags, egg shells, sugar rings, oranges, raisins, figs and baked dough figures or swans or cocks. They also participate in the coloring of real eggs which are hidden by the Easter Bunny. Hunting for that was then carried out with great vigor. Eiertikken, is also a popular Easter game in Netherland in which people knock eggs together to see which breaks first.
In the eastern regions of the Netherlands, village folks light an Easter bonfire on some hill or high point. In order to gain a head start, people start collecting wood for the fires weeks in advance as each area tries to outdo each other by building the biggest bonfire. On Easter Sunday, families gather for the traditional Easter meal. The table is decorated with colored eggs and spring flowers and Paasbrood, which is sweet bread with raisins and currants, is one of the special foods traditionally served at Easter.