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Palmpasen is Palm Sunday. In some areas of the Netherlands, they have a Palmpasen procession where the children parade around with decorated crosses with a bread cockerel on top. In some places this is on Palm Sunday itself, whereas in others it is on the Friday before Palm Sunday.

My husband, who comes from the Randstad, had never heard of Palmpasen processions. When we moved up North, my son, who was in the first year of school, came home with a letter from school about how we needed to make him a cross (it didn't say whether it had to be life-sized or not) with a sharp point on top. The sharp bit on top is to impale the bread cockerel on. The letter said that we would also need to decorate this cross with strips of crepe paper that school would provide.

Arming four-year-olds with crosses with sharp points on top doesn't seem like the most sensible idea ever, but all the children here still have two eyes, so I guess it works.

We watched and waited that first year as the sharpened crosses trickled into school to get an idea of what we were supposed to be doing. There seemed to be two basic designs: a cross made out of bamboo sticks with two wooden skewers stuck to the top and a cross made out of a sharpened stake, which looked like it had been borrowed from a vampire hunter, with another unsharpened stake bound to it.

We opted for the bamboo stick model and set to work with the crepe paper until we had a passable cross. In the village where we live, the school organises the procession is organised and it is held on the Friday before Palm Sunday. The children from the first four classes at school take part in the procession, which involves trooping around the streets around school singing Palmpasen songs. Then, at the end, the children can eat their bread cockerel and the sweets that the teacher has hung on the cross.

This year I upped the stakes (boom boom!) and volunteered to organise Palmpasen in my executive role as parental volunteer on the school activities committee. My first, and only because the teacher likes to do everything herself, assignment was to go and order 97 bread cockerels from the local baker and ask them to deliver them to school with an invoice on the day before Palmpasen.

This led to the following scene at the bakers.
Me: Hello I'd like to order 97 bread cockerels for Palmpasen for the school.
Bakery woman: Which kind of cockerels would you like?
Me: Errr.
Bakery woman: Big or small?
Me: Errr.
Bakery woman: Do you want brown or white bread?
Me: Errrr.
Bakery woman: Shall I see if we've still got last year's order on the computer?
Me: Yes please.

What will I need

You'll need a cross for your children. It will depend who organises the procession and how old the children are as to whether they will make them at school or whether you will be expected to make your own. Just remember to make it nice and sharp on top for the bread cockerel and try to prevent your child from poking anyone's eye out with it.

The bread cockerels seem to be a general thing, but I don't think you're expected to make them yourself. Here the school (or some parent) orders them. The school also hangs some sweets on the cross but again this may be different where you live.

Which words will I need to know?

Palmpaasstok - Palm Sunday cross that the children carry

Broodhaantje - Bread cockerel that goes on top of the cross

Which songs will my children sing?

Hei koerei.
Over enen zondag,
hebben wij een ei.

Een ei is geen ei.
Twee ei is een half ei.
Drie ei is een paasei.

Where can I find more information?



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