A typical Christmas when in The Netherlands
Christmas in the times of Covid-19: it will be one to remember. Everywhere in the world, Christmas is an important celebration for celebrating the birth of Christ and spending time with loved ones. It’s a warm period that will hopefully bring light and joy to a dark and strange year. In this blog, we take a look at how the Dutch celebrate Christmas.
December is a month in which the Dutch celebrate two essential festivals: Sinterklaas and Christmas. The character of Sinterklaas is based on the Bishop Nicholas of Myra, a Greek saint who lived in Lycia in Asia Minor in the third century AD. This fictional figure surprises children happy with gifts in their shoes between the end of November and December 5th. December 5th is 'pakjesavond' and, it’s customary to celebrate this in the company of family. Dutch families eat sweet treats, such as 'pepernoten', 'taai taai' and 'speculaas'. Gifts, poems and crafts play a central role.
Christmas in The Netherlands
As the Sinterklaas party ends on December 6th, the Netherlands starts preparing for Christmas. Most families will get a Christmas tree around December 6th. They decorate the tree and the home with lights and Christmas decorations. December 24th is Christmas Eve and some people attend a church service to celebrate the birth of Christ. While December 25th is called "Christmas Day" in most countries, it is called first Christmas Day in the Netherlands. Second Christmas Day falls on December 26th and is, just like first Christmas Day, an official holiday.
Typical Dutch dinner traditions
Most Dutch people celebrate Christmas with family. They give each other presents and share festive meals. A popular activity during the Dutch Christmas party is "gourmetten". Meat and small dishes are prepared on a stone grill in the middle of the table. Cheese fondue and game dishes are also popular during Dutch Christmas dinners.
The Christmas tree will remain in Dutch homes until Epiphany on January 6th. The "normal" life then reappears.
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