Dutch Language Blog

Easter in the Netherlands Posted by on Mar 29, 2013 in Dutch Vocabulary

Flickr Creative Commons/jetheriot

The paashaas is coming to town this weekend! That’s the Easter Bunny to you and me.

Paas = Easter

Haas = hare

Easter is one of those holidays that goes all out. The big day occurs three weeks after Lent (de vastentijd = lit. fasting period) and includes Holy Thursday (Witte Donderdag = lit. White Thursday) and Good Friday (Goede Vrijdag).

E-Day itself always falls on a Sunday. In English, this is Easter Sunday. In Dutch, that would be paaszondag. However, it’s much more common to refer to the day as eerste paasdag, or First Easter Day.

First Easter Day? Yup.

The Dutch – as they are wont to do with holidays – have turned Easter into a double-day holiday, making the Monday after Easter tweede paasdag (Second Easter Day). You may also hear it referred to as paasmaandag, or Easter Monday.

Easter’s not the only holiday celebrated by the Dutch that gets this treatment. There’s also eerste en tweede kerstdag (first and second Christmas Day) and eerste en tweede pinksterdag (first and second Pentecost Day). Interestingly enough, they don’t do eerste en tweede ontbijt (first and second breakfast). That seems to be just a Hobbit thing.

So, we have our paashaas who comes each year on paaszondag, bringing with him – what else? – a basket full of paaseieren (Easter eggs), which he hides on balconies and in gardens, yards, and flower pots all across the country for a good, old-fashioned eierenjacht (egg hunt).

Eggs are hard boiled and decorated with paints, stickers, and dye, but the Dutch favorite are the chocolate eggs. You’ll find them everywhere starting as early as late January. They’re wrapped in colorful foil and come in milk, pure, or white chocolate, sometimes flavored with praline, hazelnut, or advocaat (a creamy Dutch/Belgian liqueur).

If you’re looking to get photos of little Ingrid or Henk Junior with the paashaas, however, I’m going to have to disappoint you. The bunny (un)fortunately does not make appearances. In fact, he’s really only seen in the Netherlands this time of year in chocolate form.

If you’re going to be decorating eggs this year, the PAAS brand Easter Egg Kits are rumored to have been spotted at the check out in HEMA department stores. Otherwise, the HEMA, the Blokker, or the Xenos are good places to look for other brands more indigenous to the Netherlands. If all else fails, you can always mix up some homemade dye using recipes from the internet or with regular old craft supplies.

However you choose to celebrate and no matter where you may be, vrolijke paasdagen (Happy Easter) from all of us here at Transparent Language!

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About the Author: tiffany

Tiffany Jansen is an American magazine and copywriter in the Netherlands.


  1. Joka:

    Little mistake: maandag (as in ‘paasmaandag’) should have one ‘a’ more.

    • tiffany:

      @Joka Thanks so much for catching that, Joka! I’ve gone in and fixed it 🙂