Netherlands Local Custom Tips by sim1 Top 5 Page for this destination
Netherlands Local Customs: 289 reviews and 289 photos
New years Eve.... the end of another year. But we don't just end the year in Holland; we end it with a big BANG! At 12 o'clock at night we toast with champagne and wish each other a happy new year. Only minutes later everyone goes outside to start the fireworks. Everyone has plenty of fireworks with him and sets it off outside of their house. There are loud bangers, or beautiful firework that lite up the sky. And don't think it is just one or two little pieces of firework... it is FIREWORK! After that the real celebrations can begin.
I always wish all my neighbours a happy new year and have a drink at their place. Later in the night we mostly go to the pub, and just party on all night long. Early in the morning, when the sun is thinking about rising again, we go home..... what a year it has been......
Christmas I don't think I need to say a lot about Christmas. We celebrate it two days, but don't really do a lot with Christmas Eve. Although it has never been the tradition, more and more people tend to give each other gifts during Christmas.
These two days are all about going to church, visit the family, and eating a lot. But there is also a growing group of people, like me, that are hardly ever at home during these days.
The 5th of December : it is Sinterklaas!. Sinterklaas is the Dutch version of Santaclaus. But he doesn't visit during Christmas; his day is the 5th of December. In my country the kids don't believe in Santa, but they all do believe in Sinterklaas!
So what/who is Sinterklaas? Sinterklaas is a very old man who lives in Spain. In December he comes to our country on his steamboat together with his group of assistents called "zwarte pieten" or "black peters". He is here to celebrate his birthday and to bring gifts for all the children.
But Sinterklaas is not only fun for the children, it is fun for adults as well! Every year the whole family gets together and give each other gifts. But we don't just give these presents..... no way! You have to read a poem first. And these poems are no serious poems. They can be sweet and nice, but mostly they are a little teasing. The poem mostly brings back all the things you rather had forgotten in the past year. Hahahaha, I don't know why we like this day so much, with those teasing poems we maybe should dread it. It is all a lot of fun though, some of these poems are so hilarious!
And Sinterklaas is not only about gifts. There are some things we always eat during Sinterklaas : chocolate letters, Marchpane and ginger nuts (pepernoten).
Aaaah, so cute! And yes, this is me!!!!
This picture of me is taken on Sint Maarten, which is on the 11th of November. You can compare it a bit with Halloween and "trick or treat", but without the costumes. It is an event for the children. Late in the afternoon, just before it gets dark, the children go from door to door with a chinese lantern in their hands, singing special Sint Maarten songs :
Sint Maarten, Sint Maarten,
De koeien hebben staarten,
De meisjes hebben rokjes aan,
en daar komt Sint Martinus aan.
Hahaha, sorry for that, some childhood memories of the songs we used to sing. I couldn't resist putting the lyrics on this page :-)
And after singing this little song you get candy! Isn't that great! I always loved getting candy! You can see that clearly in this picture! My eyes are sparkling and I am looking up, eagerly waiting for all that delicious candy. Aaaah, I loved getting candy.... and I still do!!! LOL.
Sint Maarten is not know throughout the whole country and sadly to say it seems to be disappearing. It is quite unknown in the eastern part of the country where I live now, but up north in Groningen it is still the tradition.
A band playing on Liberation Day (5th May)
May 5th, Liberation Day, a time to celebrate! This is not a national holiday anymore. Live goes on as usual, I have to go to work, the shops are open, but still it is a very special day. We celebrate the liberation of our country after World War II. And we do that with a lot of music! All through the country there are concerts, music festivals, or just bands playing. This year I was in Groningen on the 5th of May (see my Groningen page) and this band was playing on the market square in the centre of the town. It was a real good band! Oh boy, did they get everyone in a partying mood!
4th May : Commemoration of the dead
The 4th of May, a moment of silence. A moment to think back in time, to commemorate the dead. The shops close at 5 that day, and everyone goes home. There are a lot of ceremonies throughout the country to commemorate the dead. There are silent processions, people laying flowers at monuments. I have never been to such a thing though, I commemorate at home.
On TV there is a live broadcast of the ceremony on the Dam Square in Amsterdam, which I always watch. In this ceremony The Queen lays a wreath of flowers at the monument. The ceremony at the Dam Square and all others throughout the country take place at 8 o'clock in the evening. At 8 o'clock sharp there is a silence of two minutes..... this is a moment to reflect on what has happened in the past, thinking of the people that have been killed in numerous wars..... hoping that it will never happen again.... for me a very intense two minutes. Everything in my country just seems to stop for these two minutes, the noices on street fade away. Most people are silent for just two minutes........
The Queen in Loppersum on Queensday
Queensday is on the 30th of April. Queensday is so "typical Dutch"! It is the day that we celebrate the birthday of the Queen, not that it is her actual birthday though, hahaha. It is in fact the birthday of her mother, but when our current Queen became the Queen she decided to stick to the original date of the 30th of April.
In this picture you can see the Queen in a carriage while she is visiting the little village of Loppersum. This is the village where I used to live as a child. The Queen always picks two towns to visit on Queensday and that year she visited Loppersum. As you can imagine that was quite a happening for such a smal village.
There are a lot of celebrations going on throughout the country. So it is not only in the places where the Queen visits. There are fairs, flea markets, bands playing, all sorts of things happening outdoors. The most well known is of course Queens Day in Amsterdam. I have never been there, so I can't tell you much about it. But from what I have seen on TV and heard of other people that is THE place to be on Queensday.
bicycling on one of the Dutch Islands
Ascension Day (or Hemelvaart in Dutch) is another national Holiday. Everyone has the day off, although there is a trend that more and more shops open on this day.
There are some funny traditions for what you can do on this day. The one in the area were I live is called "Dauwtrappen", which literally translated means "dewkicking". Now you can call us crazy (and I call the ones that do get up so early really crazy) but this is what it is all about : You get up way to early in the morning, and by early I am thinking of 5 o'clock (I have never done that though, hahaha). That explains the "dew" part in the expression. And at this early hour you start a cyclingtour, which means you have to start "kicking" the paddles. So that is why it is called "dewkicking". But this is not a normal cyclingtour, it is a very relaxing one. All the terraces are open and you can stop a lot of times on your trip to have a drink. You can understand this is very popular among the teenagers. They even put a crate of beer on the back of their bike to have a drink for on the way.
On a nice sunny day it is really fun to cycle on this particular day, a lot of people are cycling and enjoying a drink on the terrace, there is a lot of atmosphere.
Whitesuntide (or Pinksteren in Dutch) is celebrated 2 days in the Netherlands, on the Sunday and Monday. On these days almost everyone has off from work and all the shops are closed. It is a religious holiday, so a lot of people go to church. But that is really all that is happening on these days.
To me Whitesuntide means the beginning of spring. It is a great oppertunity to go out for a day or even two. A lot of people do the same or visit their family. It is also the time that the cole-sead is in flower. That is why I put this picture here. I just love the bright yellow flowers of the cole-sead. Whitesuntide means spring, and so does the cole-sead.... Finally, the winter is over and summer is heading my way!
eggs for easter
Aaaah, no Easter without eating eggs! Easter is really a holiday for the family. We celebrate easter two days, on Sunday and Monday. Most people visit their family on these two Easter days. There are a lot of little traditions of things to do on these days, like painting eggs, hide the eggs for the children so they can go looking for them, and so on. And at lunch it is inevitable to eat at least a couple of eggs :-)
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