Merry Dutch Christmas!
Merry Dutch Christmas!
As soon as Sinterklaas has left the country, you will see Christmas lights all around the Netherlands. Dutch Christmas is, like in most countries where Christmas is being celebrated, a big happening. You will see that everyone is busy buying gifts for each other, but Christmas in the Netherlands is a lot more than just that!
Christmas decoration everywhere
When Christmas is finally in sight, everyone gets excited to dust off their Christmas decoration. Not only will people decorate their Christmas trees at home, you will also find Christmas decoration on the streets and in stores. Througout the country, you will spot lots of illuminated canal bridges and trees in gardens. One thing that you cannot miss is the Christmas decoration in the bigger department stores. These have turned into a real Christmas wonderland decorated with bows, wreaths, fake presents and large plastic trees and are therefore definitely worth a visit!
Usually, Christmas dinner is spent with the whole family. Even though there is no particular Christmas staple, the Dutch spend a lot of time in the kitchen cooking a great diner for their loved ones. And if they do not feel like putting a lot of effort into dinner, they choose to do some gourmetten: a hot plate on which diners place a set of mini pans containing their choice of meat or vegetables.
The only real designated Christmas foods are kerstkransjes, the little biscuits tied to Christmas trees with ribbons, and kerststol, a delicious current bread with a little island of ground almond paste in the middle of each slice – unless you get the end bit.
One day is not enough
Christmas in the Netherlands is celebrated over two days: 25 and 26 December, described as First and Second Christmas Day. The First Christmas Day is usually meant to stay at home while preparing the big Christmas dinner, while the second is the day of eating left-overs of the day before and be lazy together.
Christmas in the Netherlands also means going to Christmas markets. Many Dutch visit Christmas markets in Germany, as they are considered the best. Nowadays, there is an increasing number of Christmas markets in the Netherlands as well. If you are looking to find Christmas presents or just want to enjoy the true Christmas atmosphere, going to a Christmas market is a must-try. The Royal Christmas Fair is one of the biggest Christmas markets in the Netherlands and can be found right here in The Hague.
The king’s Christmas message
Last year, king Willem-Alexander broke with the tradition set by his mother and filmed his first Christmas address to the nation at his home in Wassenaar, seated in front of a fire with photographs of his children, wife Máxima and parents behind him.
It is a family affair
If all the above may seem too much for you, just remember that Dutch Christmas basically revolves around one thing: family. Research has shown that people thought spending time with family was the most important part of Christmas in the Netherlands, followed by eating good food and attending church.