Christmas in the Netherlands

Ahh, Christmas!! It’s that time of the year when you start looking forward to that warm feeling inside, to all the presents that you are going to offer and receive and to all that unbelievable amount of food made by your grandmother!!

Maybe you’ll go back to your home town, but before that you can enjoy some Christmas feeling here in Utrecht! Going around, you might have noticed the Christmas lights on the streets, some proudly announcing the neighbourhood at which you just arrived. In the Christmas time Utrecht lights up and lives up. But what do the Dutch do during Christmas exactly?

To start off with, Christmas is not our only (and maybe not our biggest) celebration in the winter months. We have Sinterklaas on the 5th of December where children get presents and there is fun stuff to do. This means that many people don’t do gifts during Christmas. This does not undermine the happy holiday feeling though! We still celebrate, just maybe not as elaborate as you would have expected.

Here is what we do do: the Dutch celebrate Christmas in 2 days, the 25th and 26th of December. You come together with family and have a really great Christmas dinner. We don’t really have any traditions on what you eat (it is not like everyone will be having Turkey), but most of the time it is fancy. Christmas is a family holiday what often means that you go back your parents and see the entire family somewhere. Everybody is dressed up nicely and you’ll have a good time.

Of course Christmas is when we celebrate the birth of Christ, and although many Dutch people no longer practice their Christian religion, there are enough of us who do still decide to go to church for a Christmas mass.

During the Christmas time I always like it that there are Christmas trees in every house, and as the Dutch often don’t have curtains, you can see the twinkeling lights everywhere. It looks so cosy inside. Especially with the cold and dark weather outside, it then seems very nice to go inside and get warm next to the twinkeling lights and the Christmas tree with some hot chocolate.

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