The Inventory Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) in the Netherlands contains ICH of which the communities, groups or individuals involved have written a safeguarding plan. Those plans are reviewed by an independent review committee. Every two years an evaluation of the safeguarding takes place.

Description

The Poaskearls (dialect for: Easter Guys) are Catholic, single men of around twenty years old. On the first Sunday of Lent they start with the preparations for Easter. They approach two suitable candidates to become Poaskearl. At Easter there are always eight Poaskearls, to be recognised by their long beige raincoats, black trousers and hats. One can be Poaskearl for a maximum of four years. During that period one  may not get married, but dating is allowed. For the purpose of making an Easter bonfire, the Poaskearls request already at the beginning of Lent cooperation for wood, straw and petroleum at fixed addresses. They also organise the Easter meadow, where the woodpile can be built and the big Easter bonfire can be lit on Easter Sunday. On good Friday the two new Poaskearls are presented. On Easter Saturday, at noon, the town crier announces the Easter celebration. Wood is fetched and the bonfire built (dialect: boaken). On Easter Sunday, around 5 PM, the Poaskearls come to walk around the boaken, hand in hand. This is the start of the so-called vlöggeln. Led by the Poaskearls a long serpentine of people, hand in hand and singing, moves through the streets of the little town. The first, eldest Poaskearl traditionally smokes a cigar at this moment. At the end of the tour the children are lifted up high, three times, while everyone shouts ‘Hurray!’. The lifting symbolises the resurrection of Jesus Christ. At 8:30 PM the Easter bonfire is lit by the Poaskearls. On Easter Monday the ritual of the tour and the vlöggeln is repeated.

 

Community

The tradition is first of all supported by the community of Ootmarsum, the Catholic parish and the Poaskearls. Former residents return for Easter. Nowadays many tourists are attracted by the vlöggeln in particular. The precentor, the freight farmers, the residents of houses with a stiepel  (a pole inside the house), the bar managers, play an important role. The Stichting tot Bevordering en Instandhouding van de Paasgebruiken in Ootmarsum (The Foundation for the Promotion and Preservation of the Easter Customs in Ootmarsum) endeavours for sustainably keeping the Easter traditions alive.

 

History

The phenomenon Poaskearls has existed for generations in Ootmarsum. There is no generally valid theory on the origin and the meaning of their Easter customs. The names list dates back to 1900. In 1840 the vlöggeln was already mentioned in the sources. The origin of the custom is indistinct. In 1895 Pastor J. Geerdink mentioned that since time immemorial young and old has been ‘vlöggeling’ on Easter Sunday and Monday. For decades Poaskearls have worn their characteristic outfit. Withn the Christian church the Easter fire symbolises the resurrection of Christ. In the churches the Easter candle is lit at Easter. The oldest reference to an Easter bonfire in Ootmarsum dates back to 1830. The current Easter meadow has definitely been in use for the bonfire since 1863. In a Transport Act from that year it is determined that the plot is and remains encumbered with ‘the burden related to the customary Easter festivities’. The Easter bonfire nowadays guarantees a special atmosphere and strengthens the social cohesion.

 

Contact

Stichting tot Bevordering en Instandhouding van de Paasgebruiken in Ootmarsum
Oldenzaalsestraat 16
7631 CV
Ootmarsum
Overijssel
Netherlands
Website