16 December 2016

Written by Marc Lamberts
for Daily Focal

We are well on our way to the end of the year and that means Christmas is almost upon us! The Christmas madness has struck a lot of us and me too, to be honest. This leaves me in a rather weird position, because ‘here’ in The Netherlands, we don’t celebrate Christmas as intense as the UK. I’m kind stuck between two worlds. The dream world of the UK and the things we do too on one side and the sometimes disappointing reality of Christmas in The Netherlands. Here are 10 things you know when you celebrate Christmas in The Netherlands:

Do you know who Sinterklaas is?
Our Santa or Father Christmas is called Sinterklaas or St. Nicolaas and is celebrated on St. Nicholas day. We get presents and eat all kind of goodness – my dentist would disagree -. It’s actually one and the same person, but tradition and nostalgia is different in other countries. That’s why we still celebrate Sinterklaas and Father Christmas is more of an UK thing.

When you put up your Christmas tree before the 6th of December, you will be frowned upon. “Are you mad?!” When I speak to my British friends they will say the opposite: “This late, mate?!” There is a big difference between The Netherlands and The UK what Christmas concerns. 

We genuinely have less than 50 real Christmas markets, like big Christmas markets. Everyone little town calls it’s four stands with waffles and trees a Christmas market, but it’s not. If only we were more like the UK..

Christmas is especially popular with adults. In fact, how older you get, the more you value Christmas. It’s not a holiday celebrated or enjoyed by children. Children celebrate the foresaid Sinterklaas, because presents obviously.

A popular thing to visit are Christmas concerts, Christmas markets or Christmas circuses. Also very popular are Christmas concerts in churches, a lot of people don’t want to go to church for the service, but when there is only music, that’s a great alternative.

There are no sports played between Christmas and the New year, so no Boxing Day. It’s just called the Second Christmas day.

Christmas is all about food. People try their hardest to impress with their prepared meals and invite family in friends to share in the deliciousness (or crap, depends on how you cook). Also Christmas is a time where you don’t stop eating when you are full, you stop eating when you hate yourself.

Ice skating rings are very common around Christmas time. They are built for a few weeks and can usually be found at town or city squares.

A lot of people go to Germany for the Christmas atmosphere as it’s known to be better than The Netherlands

People often go out with their family on the Second Christmas day. The ‘Third’ Christmas Day is often used to go out hiking or catch up with friends, which involves a lot of food and drinking.

We'd love to know...
Can you relate to some of these things?
Are there things that are completely different to Christmas in the UK or wherever you spend/celebrate it?
[Leave a comment]

1 comment

  1. I've spent Christmas in The Netherlands before with my Dutch/English family. But they celebrate it in the UK style, with the massive Christmas dinners, the tree and decorations up early... I've never been to a Christmas market over there though! I didn't even see any!



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