When we think of “Easter”, Dutch people quickly think of (chocolate) eggs, Easter bunnies and an extensive brunch. In addition to Dutch professionals, Techvisie also employs professionals of different origins. We are curious about their traditions during Easter. For example, do they also eat chocolate eggs in Poland? Get inspired and make it an unforgettable Easter party.
Easter in Poland
Niedziela Palmowa – Palm Sunday
Exactly one week before Easter, the Sunday before, it is Palm Sunday. This day is all about the palm branches. Nowadays we buy ready-made palms, but it was common (and still is in small villages) that the palms themselves are decorated with tissue paper, flowers, herbs, sugar cane, feathers, etc. The more colorful, the more beautiful and better! We then bring the palms to the church to have them blessed. We believe it brings happiness and prosperity.
The same day we plant rzeżucha (watercress) in a flat tray. You put some cotton wool on the bottom. And and you put some seeds in it. After 7 days, the watercress is ready for consumption. You can decorate your sandwich, eggs or whatever you want with it. It looks nice and is really delicious.
Wielki Tydzień – one week’s vacation
Wielki Tydzień starts on Palm Sunday and for the children attending school the holidays start from that moment. During this holiday, the children are taught on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. They are short lessons about Jesus, his death, celebrating his resurrection, etc.
The Easter Triduüm starts on Thursday. On this day the priest cleans the feet of 12 men, just as Jesus did the 12 apostles at the last supper. After Communion, the priest takes a tabernacle (a sacrament house in which the Blessed Sacrament “host” is kept) into a dark cell, symbolizing the imprisonment of Jesus.
Good Friday is an absolute fast day. Anyone between 18 and 60 years old (Catholics) is allowed to eat 1 full meal and 2 smaller meals. That’s all. You cannot eat meat, drink alcohol and have a snack.
Święconka – blessed food
We prepare a basket on Easter Saturday. We fill the basket with treats, which we then eat during Easter breakfast. We go to church to have the basket blessed. What’s in the basket varies by region. Only a few products must be in the basket:
- – Eggs: symbol of new life
- – Bread: symbol of the body of Christ
- – Sausage (often white) or other meat products: symbol of prosperity
- – Salt: symbol for the essence of the truth
- – Lamb figure made of sugar or butter: symbol of the risen Jesus (resurrection)
- – Horseradish: symbol of the Lord’s Passion
- – Homemade cake: symbol of skill
It is customary to decorate the basket with cat willow or boxwood branches – you also use these on your Easter table.
Pisanki – dyeing eggs
This tradition is loved by children: painting eggs. In the past, only women were painting eggs and then men were not allowed into the kitchen, in fact: the kitchen was temporarily off limits. They used natural coloring methods such as: turmeric, red onion, red cabbage, beetroot, carrots or pumpkin. Nowadays you can buy all kinds of colorful egg paint or stickers. You can also make patterns and shapes with wax. Preparing the eggs is a great family activity.
Śniadanie Wielkanocne – Easter breakfast
Unlike Christmas, when the big family meal is in the evening, Easter is all about breakfast / brunch. We come together with the whole family for a festive breakfast. The Easter meal consists mainly of meat, eggs and pastries. The most popular dishes are:
- – Żurek: traditional Polish soup with smoked meat, often with the addition of white sausage and hard-boiled egg.
- – Biała kiełbasa: fried white sausage with horseradish.
- – Different types of eggs.
- – Meat dishes.
- – Mazurek: shortcrust pastry with butterscotch filling.
- – Babka wielkanocna: Easter cake, similar in taste to farmer’s cake.
Śmigus-dyngus – Easter Monday
Easter Monday is all about having fun! It is also known as Lany Poniedziałek, which means Wet Monday. On this day it is important that you spray some water on your friends, family, or whoever you meet and say śmigus-dyngus! It is difficult to explain or translate what that word means. It’s just something you say when you attack someone with water. It could be just a few drops from the tap or a full blast with water guns.
Children in particular enjoy this a lot. It just doesn’t mean that adults shouldn’t be silly sometimes. It depends on the weather and the relationship you have with them, but according to tradition you throw a few drops (or a bucket) of water on everyone you meet!
However, it used to be more extreme, but the tradition is still there in the villages. All the boys in the village organized a kind of “hunt” in which they had buckets filled with water to wet other women. It’s funny and this day is all about having fun. Especially when the weather is good. You’re guaranteed to get wet!
Easter in Romania
Joia Mare – The Great Thursday
The holiday starts on the Thursday before Easter. This Thursday is called Joia Mare and means: the great Thursday. From this day on, the farmers traditionally stopped working the fields and started preparing for the household.
Curățenia de Paște – cleaning up for Easter
After the farmers came off the field, they throw themselves into the household. Time for cleaning and tidying up. Even now that there are not so many people working on the land nowadays, we keep this tradition and a big cleaning frenzy starts from Thursday.
On this day, besides cleaning, a lot more happens: women paint eggs red (symbolizing the blood of Christ) and make Pască. This is a traditional sweet bread with fresh cheese and raisin filling. Students and family members from abroad come home. There is always a pleasant atmosphere, like: let us all together.
Lumina Sfântă – the holy light
Saturday evening all Christians go to church for Noaptea învierii (the night of the revival). Everyone puts on their finest clothes to meet and participate in the religious ceremony. At midnight the priest calls Hristos a inviat! (Christ revives!) And sets fire to a huge bundle of candles. The crowd replies: Adevarat a înviat! (roughly translated to “yes he did”) and then they start lighting candles one by one until everyone has lit their candles. The crowd marches to the cemetery where we bring the sacred light to the graves of our relatives to guide them in the dark. The purpose of the sacred light is to burn this in every household until Easter is over.
The party starts on Sunday. This Sunday is also the end of Easter fast. This is the day when everyone comes together to eat… all day long. The first thing to do when you wake up is Ciocnirea ouălelor (the knocking of eggs). This is a duel where the strongest egg wins. It works like this: the duel takes place between 2 people. The first has to take an egg and say Hristos a înviat! While holding his egg with the bottom or top up and the second participant says Adevarat a înviat! He taps lightly with his own egg to the first participant. Both look at the egg to see who broke it and the match is over after repeating it one more time with the other end of the egg. Kids get excited about this all the time and sometimes duck eggs and wooden eggs are the secret weapon of the grand parents to trick their nephews and grandkids.
Traditional Romanian food
- – Cozonac: airy sweet bread with Turkish delight, raisins, cocoa spurs, walnuts. Only the best “Gospodine” (housewives) know how to make this dough fluffy.
- – Drob de miel: pie made of lamb organs and vegetables, baked in the oven, with boiled eggs in the center for artistic design. Some families plant a coin in the Drob and whoever gets the coin in their portion will be blessed with good luck. The whole year.
- – Friptura de miel: lamb meat baked, baked or grilled. At Easter, everyone eats lamb because the sacrifice of a lamb is an analogy to the sacrifice Christ made.
- – Pască: sweet bread filled with fresh cheese and raisins. This is brought to the church on the night of the revival to be purified by the priest.
There is an underlying competition between housewives for who prepares the best food.
Forty days after Easter and including Sunday, all greetings are replaced with Hristos a înviat and with the appropriate response from Adevărat a înviat.
The general atmosphere at Easter is to be with your family and celebrate the sacrifice of Christ. The long fast is ended by this huge feast. Women boast about their cooking and men drink their homemade wine. Nobody works on this day and everything is closed. Students and people working abroad come home to see their grandparents and everyone enjoys the presence of the others. Everyone calls up all their friends and sends their elaborate texts about the resurrection of Christ and good wishes for the coming year.
Easter in the Netherlands
The Netherlands does not have very extensive traditions like in Poland or Romania. Easter in the Netherlands is often celebrated with an extensive breakfast or brunch. In the week (or weeks) before Easter you will see chocolate eggs in people’s homes or at work. On Easter itself, the table is nicely set and filled with delicious food, such as: croissants, bake-off breads, Easter stollen, sugar bread with a layer of butter, boiled eggs and luxury spreads.
Another tradition in the Netherlands is the Easter fires. It’s a kind of bonfire. In the weeks leading up to Easter, wood is collected and placed in a large pile. This pile can be tens of meters high. When night falls and it gets dark, the whole thing is lit. The event always attracts a lot of attention and mainly takes place in villages.
Conclusion Easter at Techvisie
To us it is clear. Our Techvisie-tip to make it an unforgettable Easter party? Combine the best of the different traditions. We wish you a Happy Easter!
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