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Easter celebrations: then and now

Date:10 April 2020
Author:The Blog team
How we'll be celebrating Easter 2020: empanadas and coffee
How we'll be celebrating Easter 2020: empanadas and coffee

This weekend is Easter weekend! While 2020 is quite different to any other year we’ve experienced, Ariana and Danique want to look back at how Easter is celebrated in their hometowns, and how they are going to celebrate this year.


Danique (Dutch/American): 

For me, Easter is really a weekend where the whole family comes together for some quality time. My family isn’t religious, so Easter weekend for us is more a celebration of having two extra days to make a long weekend. 

When I was little and growing up in the United States, we adopted the American Easter Bunny traditions and would go Easter-egg hunting in the neighborhood with all of the other kids. Some eggs were just chocolate eggs, others were plastic eggs that you could pop open and inside there would be money or candy. Moving to the Netherlands, we continued this tradition until my siblings and I grew up. Since then, Easter is mostly celebrated with good food and the whole family coming together. Like most Dutchies, we really love a good Easter brunch. The whole dining table is full of warm baked rolls, toppings like salmon and chocolate sprinkles; fruit, juice, tea and coffee. While my family loves a good Sunday morning breakfast any week, Easter is different because then we dress the table with our fancy table cloth and get out my Mom’s fancy china (that is only used for Easter and Christmas), which gives it a special feeling. 

Next to eating brunch, if it’s nice weather we enjoy this to its fullest with a walk or a bike ride, and a barbecue at night.

We aren’t the only Dutchies who like doing things outside, Easter is often classified as the beginning of Spring in the Netherlands as it is the first long weekend of good weather. Usually, if the weather is in fact good, the beaches, nature parks and terraces will be full, and there are often free festivals to attend all across the country. In the north of the Netherlands, there is the tradition of an “Easter bonfire”, where towns join together to light a huge bonfire. 

Obviously this year will be different, as going to the beaches, nature parks, bonfires, festivals or sitting on a terrace isn’t possible. However, I’ll still be celebrating with my family and eating our beloved brunch while using fancy china! Instead of going somewhere, we’ll still enjoy the nice weather by sitting in the garden. It’ll be different, but the core idea of Easter weekend will remain the same. 

Ariana (Costa Rican)

Easter in Costa Rica (and dare I say Latin America) isn’t the typical Easter you’d imagine. We don’t have chocolate bunnies and easter eggs, which really disappointed me while growing up. What we do have, however, is an entire week off! In Costa Rica, we celebrate “Holy Week”, as we are a Catholic country. Although my parents and I aren’t religious, our families are, meaning that we sometimes partake in the traditions of Holy Week. There are several ways of spending Easter in Costa Rica, so I’ll start with the most traditional way:

The most characteristic events are the daily processions and the masses, which have a different theme depending on the day of the Holy Week. My parents like to go to these because they used to attend them while they were growing up, but we often observe them more for their cultural value than their religious value. A common sight during Holy Week is a wooden cross draped with purple fabric outside of almost every home. It’s a traditional decoration which gives the neighborhoods a beautiful pop of colour. Apart from this, families always gather to make “empanadas de chiverre”, which are pastries filled with a sweet squash-like fruit. I used to bake these with my grandmother as a child, so my mom and I love to keep this tradition alive. I actually haven’t been in Costa Rica for Holy Week since 2017, so getting to finally bake and eat these tiny pastries again was amazing! Here’s a picture of the batch we made last Sunday:


Now, many say that the traditions of Holy Week are something that’s only celebrated by the older generations. The younger generations have a non-traditional approach to Holy Week, and often just take it as a week of vacation. Obviously, being in Costa Rica, this can only mean one thing: beach trip. Costa Rica has more than 200 beautiful beaches, but even with that large number of beaches for such a small country, you’ll always hear that all the beaches are full. 95% of the hotels reach full capacity during this week, so in order to enjoy a week at the beach, people often book their trips way in advance.

I have celebrated both the traditional and the non-traditional Holy Week in the past, but this year, everything is a little bit different. All the beaches are closed, and the masses and processions have been cancelled. However, the neighborhoods are still decorated in purple and the families have baked empanadas, so it’s nice to see that the traditions are still kept alive! As for the beach trips, we’ll just have to save those for later. ‘Till then, you can find us all enjoying the sun from our backyards.

About the author

The Blog team
The Blog team
Hey! We're Danique, Marije and Asmo and work together as part of the blog team. Sometimes we go outside and take cringey pictures together for our blogs. So if you see us walking around Groningen together... that's probably what we're doing.

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