3 min10 December 2020

Christmas in the Netherlands

Christmas is a very important time for some people. Regardless of whether you are Christian or not, Christmas is associated with family gatherings, a rich table, Christmas tree, Christmas carols and gifts … For most of us, it is a time to rest and share joy with loved ones. We expect the same everywhere. However, it is enough to spend Christmas outside your home country once to understand how differently the world celebrates this occasion. If you spend this year’s holidays in the Netherlands due to a pandemic, you may be surprised! However, we suggest you keep an open mind and look at other cultures with curiosity!

Blowing trumpets

As strange as the title of this paragraph sounds, you may be even more surprised to see a man with a very long horn blowing over… a well. Those sounds are supposed to be of terror and announce the upcoming birth of Jesus. Nowadays, this tradition is rather cultivated in Dutch villages and is called Midwinterhoornblazen.

Christmas dishes

A richly set table, which you know from your home country, does not matter that much in the Netherlands. Dutch housewives tend to avoid bustling in the kitchen for hours. If you eat meat, you will like Christmas dishes: game meat, quail, hares… these are Dutch specials. And of course, there must be Christmas bread – Kerstbrood.

They canceled Christmas Eve!

Yes, in the Netherlands Christmas Eve is not celebrated. Christmas in the Netherlands is a dinner served on the First Day of Christmas. There is no fast in this country (no need to starve yourself to fit lots of food in your stomach later, because there aren’t too many dishes on the table). Santa Claus, just like in any other country, looks under Dutch Christmas tree and leaves gifts for all family members.

Full churches

This is probably the only time of the year when Dutch churches are full of people.  Evidently, the Dutch like to sing Christmas carols together during the midnight mass (a solemn Christmas Eve mass). They sing in Dutch, German and English to greet Jesus with dignity.

Decorated houses

During the festive season, houses in the Netherlands turn into very shiny places. They are decorated with colorful lights and beautifully dressed Christmas trees. In this country, great importance is attached to the look of the house on Christmas which dazzles with its unique atmosphere. Some people say that the Dutch boast about their wealth… but that is probably not the point.

Send the card

Apparently Dutch postmen have lots of work around Christmas season! The Dutch love to write Christmas cards (apparently the average family sends 30-50 pieces!). The ones they receive themselves are hung by the window or placed on the fireplace. So your Dutch friends will be glad if you send them a greeting card.

Time for reflection

For the Dutch, Christmas is the time to slow down the pace of life, to clean up both the household as well as one’s own head and relationships with relatives. For them, it is a time of reflection and summaries of the year. They spend it with their loved ones (family and friends), enjoying all the blessings they received from life.

This gratitude inspired by reflection on your own life is a valuable clue. You may not spend Christmas the way you dream about it, but there are certainly many things in your life that you can enjoy. It is worth cultivating such a positive attitude towards life and the world. It’s always easier to go through life with a smile on your face!

We wish you a beautiful Christmas! All the best! Stay healthy!

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