Christmas is one festival that has several interesting variations around the globe with respect to the customs and traditions of each province. The difference in the celebration pattern is mainly attributed towards the influences from which the local region derives its traditions, Christmas in Netherland being no different. Netherland has a pre-Christmas celebration that is derived from its political and religious philosophy, and local folklore. Christmas celebrations commence many weeks ahead, starting from the last Saturday of November. The festivity continues until Epiphany, also called "Driekoningen" in Dutch, on January 6th. From traditional church mass to local celebrations, delicious gastronomic treats and weeklong special fetes, you can be assured of a fun-filled Dutch holiday on Christmas. Netherland certainly has more than a few exciting options to look forward to if you are planning to have unique cultural experience. To know more about Christmas in Netherland, read the article below.
Christmas Traditions In Netherland
Read about Christmas and its traditions in Netherlands and Dutch Christmas customs.
Christmas In Netherland
- Christmas celebrations begin from the last Saturday of November as the locals begin preparations to celebrate St Nicholas Day on 6th of December.
- Legend has it that he is accompanied by a servant named Black Peter who was the devil that St Nicholas captured and enslaved. Black Peter is usually depicted with horns and red eyes.
- In Netherland, the concept of Santa Clause does not exist. Instead, it is believed that, St Nicholas hands out presents to children on the eve of St Nicholas Day. Children, in the hope of getting desired gifts from their beloved saint, keep some hay and water outside their houses, and near their shoes, at night. The underlying assumption here being that the hay and water would make St Nicholas’s horse happy and the duo would leave gifts in the shoes.
- Since children receive gifts on the eve of St Nicholas Day, they usually do not receive any gifts on Christmas Day. After the celebrations of the St Nicholas day, he is said to return to Spain and people continue to prepare for Christmas celebrations.
- Just before Christmas, a tradition known as Midwinter Horn Blowing is practiced in the rural eastern parts of the country where farmers make long horns from trees. The horn is blown by men, standing over the wells to create a sound that announces the birth of Christ.
Dutch Christmas Customs
- Christmas in Netherland is celebrated for two consecutive days, i.e. December 25th and 26th, which are both observed as public holidays. The first Christmas Day, i.e. 25th December, is known as “Eerste Kerstdag” meaning “the first day of Christmas” while the second day, i.e. December 26th is called “Tweede Kerstdag” meaning “Boxing Day”.
- Christmas celebrations include a traditional church ceremony and a traditional family meal which comprises of hare, goose, turkey, Kerstbrood (Christmas loaf), Kerstkrans (Christmas Ring), gourmetten and Pannekoeken (pancake).
- On the first day Christmas carols are sung and the birth of Christ is enacted and other popular Christmas tales are narrated. The second day is spent with fun-filled, leisure activities that involve attending dinner parties, plays, symphonies and eating out with friends.
- Children are usually given a two week holiday to enjoy the festivity. The Christmas celebrations come to an end after New Year and Epiphany, or "Driekoningen”, is celebrated on January 6th.
- On the day of Epiphany, kids, dressed as the Three Wise Men, travel around the city carrying lanterns and enacting the “Driekoningen” and singing carols. In return, children are offered cakes and sweets.
- During Christmas, big cities like Rotterdam, The Hague, Amsterdam and Eindhoven are seen busy with celebrations and entertainment. But, in the southern part of the country, people are commonly busy with religious ceremonies and churches are seen bustling with parishioners on Christmas Day.
Such is the glory of Christmas that all countries in the world stop everything and engage in joyous celebrations to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ. We hope that the above write-up gave you enough insights about the Christmas traditions in Netherland and you feel wiser than you felt at the begging of the article.