What do we celebrate?
Liberation Day marks the end of the occupation of the Netherlands by Nazi Germany during World War II. On the 5th of May exactly seventy years ago, a Canadian general and a German commander in chief reached an agreement and signed a capitulation document in Wageningen. Even though World War II had not yet ended in the rest of Europe, this meant that for the Netherlands the gruesome times were over and people could start rebuilding their houses and their lives.
Liberation day follows May 4, on which the Dutch remember all who died during World War II. It is referred to as ‘dodenherdenking’, translated to ‘remembrance of the dead’. Gatherings are organized all across the country to commemorate those who fought, suffered, and died during the war. At 8 p.m., the whole of the Netherlands is quiet for two minutes to remember the victims of the war and to memorialize their ancestors and the horrific years they had to go through.
After this rather sad May 4th, Liberation Day lights up the atmosphere by celebrating the freedom that came at last. On this day, not only the capitulation agreement is commemorated, but one also takes a moment to realize how lucky they are to live in a country where people live in freedom. Because sadly enough there are many places in the world where this is not the case.
Where do we celebrate?
Liberation Day is celebrated all across the country by means of music festivals and parades. The Liberation Day Pop Festival in Haarlem and the Liberation Day Festival in Wageningen are especially popular. Wageningen holds a famous veteran parade and is visited by many officials because the capitulation agreement was signed at Wageningen University, and so the freedom officially started in this small town. Amsterdam celebrates Liberation Day with music concerts at Museum Square and a Liberation Day Festival at the Westerpark.
Utrecht also celebrates this special day with a Liberation Festival, located in Park Transwijk. During this day many Dutch artists such as Trijntje Oosterhuis and Dotan will be performing on stage, and various other activities take place such as theatre performances, a cultural market and reading sessions.
And by the end of the day, when you are slightly tired of all impressions but still have enough energy to celebrate freedom in a different setting, Club Poema presents: The Liberation Day After Party.
Enjoy this special day and celebrate the importance of freedom at one of the many festivals. And remember, on May 5th, we do not drink to forget but we drink to remember.