The Netherlands

Celebrating Christmas in the Netherlands – traditions & food

Christmas has arrived! As a true Dutchie, I’d like to tell you all about our celebrating Christmas in the Netherlands. The Dutch traditions, the celebration, the food and more. I’ll tell you all about it in this article! Happy holidays!

Christmas days & celebration

Unlike most countries, people are celebrating Christmas in The Netherlands on the 24th (Christmas eve), the 25th (first Christmas day) and the 26th (second Christmas day). It really varies per family how and on what day they celebrate Christmas, but both the 25th and 26th of December are national holidays.

In general, Dutch people celebrate Christmas with their family. The ‘being together’ and the cosiness are the most important things of these festive days. Furthermore, we give each other presents, do some games, have a delicious dinner together and/or go for a walk with each other.

Besides family, we also celebrate Christmas with our friends. Having a nice time together combined with drinks and delicious food.

Delicious Dutch Christmas Food

Christmas in The Netherlands is associated with food. Lot’s of Dutch food! From breakfast to lunch and especially dinner: everything needs to be perfect and mouth-watering.

For breakfast it’s really common in the Netherlands to eat some stollen. We combine the stollen together with bread from the oven, croissants, an egg and some orange juice with coffee or tea (again, this differs per family of course).

Lots of families in the Netherlands are going to gourmet with the Holidays. It’s some kind of barbecue, but gourmet cooking happens inside the house. You make some salads, buy some meat, vegetables and any other products which you can grill on the table grill.

Besides gourmet cooking, it’s also very common for the Dutch people to prepare an extensive dinner for Christmas. Normally, this goes in several courses and the people cook dishes which are something different than what they normally eat: a little more luxurious, special. I also hear a lot that the courses are divided into the family members and that each person make a course (soup, starter, main course, salad, dessert…).

There also are many families who go out for dinner to a restaurant. Restaurants are normally (almost) completely full during the Holidays so making a last-minute reservation can be quite hard.

Christmas presents

We also give each other presents during the Christmas days (of course we lay the presents under the Christmas tree!). However, the way (and on which day) we’re giving the presents differs per family.

Some families buy a present for every person in the family, but often families draw lots. They buy presents only for the person they drew. Normally, you discuss beforehand for how many euro’s you can buy presents, so everyone gets the same at the end. You can make a wish list as well before the lots are drawn. In that way you can help and show the things you’d like to have.

In some families, people also write poems for each other. This can go about anything: about the last year, about that person’s characteristics or about funny / good things which happened in the past.

Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

Other Christmas traditions in The Netherlands

Beside the Christmas days, the food and the presents, we also have the following Christmas traditions in The Netherlands:

  • a decorated Christmas tree in the living room: almost every Dutch family has a decorated Christmas tree in their house during the Holidays. Most people set up the Christmas tree right after Saint Nicholas has left (right after the 5th of December) and break it down in the new year
  • sending Christmas cards: although nowadays it goes more often online instead of hand-written, we still love to send Christmas cards to our friends and family
  • opening an advent calendar: lots of Dutch people like to buy a advent calendar on which you can each day (from the 1st to the 24th of December) open a box. In these boxes you can find, for example, chocolates. Nowadays there are all kinds of advent calendars: from tea to beer and from perfume to make-up.
  • having a Christmas package: lots of Dutch companies give its employees a Christmas package for the Holidays. This package is filled with drinks and food, which is a delight to unpack!

Hopefully this post gave you a good idea how we are celebrating Christmas in The Netherlands. I’m really curious about the Christmas traditions in other countries. How do you celebrate Christmas? Let me know in the comment section below!

We, Daphne and Tamara, would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas!

Photo by Tom Rickhuss on Unsplash

Author: Tamara

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