In Holland, Christmas celebrations flag off sometime during mid-November, although the celebrations officially commence on December 5 with Sinterklass or St. Nicholas' Day. It is fabled that, every year on the eve of on St. Nicholas's Day, Sinterklass-the kind bishop-together with his aid Zwarte Pieten (Black Pete) travels all the way to Netherland from Spain to deliver goodies and gifts to kids. He troops down the streets on his gray snow-horse Amerigo is where kids and adults receive him with warm adulation. Black Pete gives away candies and small, round, gingerbread-like cookies as either "kruidnoten" or "pepernoten" to the cheering crowd. The young kids welcome him by singing traditional Sinterklaas songs. It is on this day that 'surprises' or presents are exchanged. The kids leave wooden shoes outside their homes only to find it filled with gifts the next morning. Christmas celebration lasts for two days here - 'EersteKerstdag' and 'TweedeKerstdag', celebrated on 25th and 26th December respectively. On the two Christmas days, people feast, eat, drink and exchange gifts to mark the birth of Jesus Christ.
Christmas Day celebrations are usually a quiet affair here; everything happens without much hype or hoopla. It is a religious time where people visit church for service and spend the afternoons singing carols. A special Sunday school is conducted where Christmas stories and tales are retold to young children. On Christmas night, Christmas man, who is the Dutch avatar of traditional Santa Claus, comes to give gifts to the kids.
Christmas dinner in Holland includes all traditional Dutch delicacies like "Kersttulband" - a Christmas ring cake, "Pepernoten" - Peppernut Cookies, "Banketstaaf" or "Banketletters" - pastry logs filled with sweet almond paste, "Speculaas Koekjes" - spice cookies, "Kerstkransjes" - Christmas wreath cookies, "Kerststol" - fruit-filled Christmas loaf and "Jan Hagel" cookies - a fragrant and flaky Christmas cookie. All these dishes are extremely popular in Holland as Christmas delicacies.
There is also a long-drawn Christmas tradition of farmers blowing long horns over wells during the sunset every evening. These horns are blown to announce the arrival of baby Christ, and Christmas, to fellow citizens. Usually in Netherland, Christmas is celebrated without much pomp or show, where people buy Christmas trees and decorate them with colourful wreaths, cookies, color glass balls, ribbons, sparkly pinecones, golden nuts, bells and candles in red and white. Advent starlight is placed on the windows and the main square of every city in Holland is lit up with dazzling Christmas tree. Lights, bells, stars and garlands deck up every house and lane in Holland during this festive time. All stores and markets are decorated with red, white, silver, gold and green color papers and balloons. There are many events and shows held in towns and cities throughout Holland, which are part of a huge raging tradition in Netherlands. One of the major attractions of the event here is "Sinterklaas" sitting on a white horse and leading happy children and their parents across the town.
Holland offers a brilliant composition of fun, merriment and religiousness on Christmas. If you are making a list of places to visit for Christmas celebrations then make sure you don't miss out on Christmas in Holland.
Read about Christmas and its traditions in Holland and Christmas customs from Holland.