Girl decorating Christmas tree

Merry Dutch Christmas!


As soon as Sinterklaas leaves the country on 6 December, all decorations in honour of the Dutch Saint Nicholas make way for another favourite Dutch holiday – Christmas! However, Christmas in the Netherlands is not quite the same as what you are used to. Here are a few traditions that may seem peculiar to an international.


Where are the Christmas decorations?

In most countries, Christmas decorations are up as early as November. In the Netherlands, these decorations stay in hibernation till Sinterklaas gets on his white horse to return to Spain. On 6 December, Christmas decorations appear as if by magic, in shopping streets, department stores, along bridges and in homes. This is also the day when most Dutch people buy and decorate their Christmas trees.



In the Netherlands, Christmas is about spending time with the family over a meal. But don’t wait for turkey to be served. Here, you cook your own dinner at the table on a ‘gourmet’, a hot plate with pans in the middle of the table where you can grill bite-sized pieces of meat, fish or vegetables. Children love it, and it’s a great way to enjoy a meal without spending too much time in the kitchen.

‘Kerstkransjes’ – little biscuits tied to Christmas trees with ribbons, ‘Kerststol’ – a raisin and current bread filled with marzipan, and ‘Advocaat’ – an egg-based liquer, will also make an appearance at the dinner table around Christmas time.


One day is not enough

Christmas in the Netherlands is celebrated over two days: 25 and 26 December, also known as the First Christmas Day ‘eerste Kerstdag’ and Second Christmas Day ‘tweede kerstdag’. The First Christmas Day is usually when the Christmas feast takes place with the immediate family, while the Second Christmas Day is reserved for brunch with friends or the extended family. 


Did you come across any other interesting Christmas traditions in the Netherlands? Tell us about it! You can email our communications team at We’d love to hear from you.