Easter fires, called Paasvuren, are the most spectacular highlight of Easter celebrations. Huge bonfires are lit on Easter Sunday at sunset. One cannot overestimate the size and beauty of the fire at the end of the most festive day. Join the crowd and see it for yourself!
Where to see Easter fires
This tradition is common in the eastern and northern parts of the Netherlands. Massive bonfires are lit in the provinces of Drenthe, northeast Gelderland, around Overijssel and near the city of Groningen. In the village of Wedde, located southeast of Winschoten, the Easter fire takes place annually along the highway between Wedderveer and Wedde at 7:30 pm.
Many people collect so-called snoeihout, wood branches and twigs, throughout the entire year to contribute to the fire. The whole community participates in forming a huge pile of wood to be lit after dusk. Typically, rural areas are chosen for this occasion, as it's dangerous to ignite fires close to buildings.
However, in some cases, you can also witness Easter fires in the cities. In the city of In Borne, located in the region of Twente, Eastern Netherlands, thousands of people gather to start an Easter fire in the Oonksweg area of Borne. The fire is started at around 8:30 pm. A folklore group organizes this event annually, maintaining the ancient tradition.
Dutch Easter Fires originate in pre-Christian times. This pagan tradition has a Germanic origin. Once these bonfires were a symbol of the battle between spring and winter with the inevitable victory of spring. People, who gathered around the fire, celebrated fertility, and the ashes, applied to the soil, enhanced its fertility. Revelers rejoiced through singing and dancing. Nowadays, the fires serve an important social function. As in the old times, hundreds of villagers still gather for a party near the fire, but they come to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.