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Espelo takes local tradition to unprecedented heights

Easter bonfire ‘mountain’ a record

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

ESPELO - A record-high Easter Bonfire (although not an exact translation, in the Dutch language, a paasbult), was reduced to a heap of ashes in the Twente town of Espelo recently but not before Dutch notaries completed the documentation for an entry into the Guinness Book of World Records.

The Espelo-mountain of tree branches and other redundant firewood was piled an unprecedented 45,98 metres high, mindboggling even for most paasbult enthusiasts of which there are thousands in the eastern regions of the Netherlands and adjoining areas in Germany. A more modest size paasbult usually takes volunteers a few Saturdays to built, but the Espelo endeavour represents an altogether different challenge. Such a record-breaking undertaking involves much planning and careful execution.

The volume of tree waste for such a mountain is astronomical as is the challenge to get it atop the ‘skyscraper’ while keeping the structure secure during building time and blustery Dutch weather. That is not all. Increasingly, building bonfires requires permits and governmental inspections over safety and environmental concerns. A pre Christian era local tradition gone in pursuit of records could easily be declared off-limits by local officials but the Rijssen-Holten municipality, which has an appreciation for traditions, accommodated its record paasbult visionaries.

The tradition of endeavours such as the paasbult fires is not restricted to the Dutch German border regions but can be found, in various expressions, throughout Europe. In the past, some Dutch municipalities severely restricted such endeavours.