Wondering how Good Friday (Goede Vrijdag) and Easter (Pasen) are celebrated in the Netherlands? Although these days might not have a religious value for most Dutch people anymore (similar to Christmas), they still have a christian root. And we still like to take these days off and focus on ourselves and our loved ones. A good example is the Paasbrunch – a brunch especially dedicated to Easter!
These days are more than just an extended weekend
You might have heard it
‘Ja, we hebben een lekker lang weekend nu!’
‘Lekker lang weekend de komende dagen!’
You guessed it right – lang weekend means ‘long weekend’. Because of Good Friday and Easter on Monday most people get 4 days off. Hence the extended weekend! Lots of Dutchies go on a short trip or spend time with family and friends on these days.
Good Friday is the day on which Jesus is believed to have been crucified in Christianity. It’s the second-most-important holiday of Christianity, and it’s the third day before Easter. On Goede Vrijdag christians in the Netherlands remember the crucifixion and death of Jesus.
On Good Friday, lots of catholic churches conmemorate the ‘kruisweg’ at 3 pm. This was the literal road from the Roman justice building to the hill of Golgotha, where Jesus is believed to be crucified.
On the evening of Good Friday there’s an honoring of the cross. After this ‘kruishulde’ there’s a communion. Traditionally, catholics are expected to fast on Good Friday – meaning they only should eat one full meal and refrain from eating meat. In the Orthodox tradition there are services held, and this already starts on the evening before Good Friday. Orthodox christians view Good Friday as a very strict day of fasting.
Good Friday in the Protestant church is celebrated with a very humble church service, in the Netherlands.
How is Easter celebrated in the Netherlands?
Traditionally, kids are called to look for eggs (chocolate eggs). They are led to believe the ‘Paashaas’ (= Easter Bunny) has hidden these eggs all over the house and around it. For Dutch kids, this is big fun! Lots of Dutch families start the day witth a specially decorated paasei. This egg can be painted, filled or drawn on. Dutch primary schools traditionally also spend attention on ‘Pasen’, and have their students look for eggs as well as prepare their own decorated eggs themselves.
Pasen, as we call Easter, is about celebrating the rising from the death of Jesus by christians believers especially. On Good Friday Jesus dies and three days later, on Pasen, he rises again. When he dies he takes on all the sins of man upon himself – according to the Biblical story. A good story for your first Paasbrunch!