In September the new ‘burgomaster’ is appointed by the incumbent burgomaster, in the hamlet Nederland (= the Netherlands) in Steenwijkerland. That is an inhabitant with two tasks: keeping the Easter fire alive and appointing a successor. This undemocratic ‘election’ goes with a chain of office, its own anthem and a flag. The burgomaster is also the one who maintains the contacts with the municipality. During the year prunings are collected at the bridge which connects both parts of the hamlet and this is also the spot where the Easter fire takes place. On Easter Sunday, around sunset, the Easter fire is lit.
The hamlet of Nederland consists of nine former farmhouses and all inhabitants are actively involved in the burgomaster tradition and the Easter fire. The current teenagers and twenty-somethings have taken over the task of lighting and keeping the Easter fire burning from the previous generation. For every resident of the hamlet this is the occasion to come together and chat. There are always inhabitants who spontaneously bring something to drink. The recreative inhabitants are also involved in the Easter fire and the gathering contributes to the mutual connectedness and expresses the local identity.The municipality is involved through issuing the authorisation for the Easter fire and the inhabitants must keep in line with the IJsselland Safety Region.
The tradition exists as of 1985 and links the Easter fire that is annually lit, with the burgomaster. The Easter fire tradition in the hamlet started earlier in the eighties, when the function of the nine farmhouses shifted from agricultural use to habitation. The inhabitants must consider the wind direction (the houses and the adjacent nature reserve De Weerribben) and drought in the area. But rainy weather on that day could also make it impossible to light the fire or make it necessary to choose another day for it. For two consecutive years already the municipality has not given an authorisation for the Easter fire. Therefore an alternative Easter fire has been organised in 2015, in one of the gardens, with flares and fire baskets. The gathering – a very important element of the tradition – has been safeguarded in this way. The burgomaster election has not changed much over the years. The burgomaster is still responsible for the Easter fire. The task of keeping the fire burning has meanwhile been taken over by a new generation.