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Easter Around the World

    Easter in The Netherlands

    In the Netherlands the day before Lent begins is Carnival day which is referred to as Vastenavond or Fast Eve. In South Holland the celebrations begin on the Sunday and last for three days. Preparations begin the previous year on 11th day of the 11th month, when a council of 11 meets to organize the plans. Traditionally the number 11 is the number for fools, and during Carnival people are allowed to be as foolish as they wish. At this time dances are popular, parades and masquerade balls. In each town someone is elected prince of the Carnival and he is handed the keys to the city.

    On Palm Zondag or Palm Sunday children go in processions from farm to farm collecting eggs for the Easter sports. To find the eggs they carry a curiously 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, chocolate eggs, small cakes and baked dough figures or swans or cocks.

    On Easter Sunday or as it is known in the Netherlands Paas Zondag there is a special Easter meal. The table is decorated with colored eggs and spring flowers, and Paasbrood which is a sweet bread with raisins and currants, is one of the special foods traditionally served at Easter. In the east almost every village lights an Easter bonfire on some hill or high point. People begin collecting wood for the fires weeks in advance, each area tries to outdo each other by building the biggest and best fire than its neighbors.

    Easter Monday is a day for egg games. The youngest children hunt for colored eggs which have been hidden around the house or in the garden, while the older children have egg cracking contests or as it is also known eiertikken contests.

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