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holidays in the netherlands

Everyone knows it. Holidays in other countries are fun to see and can be pretty weird. We have some pretty funny holidays in the Netherlands which I love to tell you about!

*These are the dates in 2019.* 

As there are a lot of different cultures and religions in Holland, we have a lot of holidays in the Netherlands. Catholics to Muslim, we celebrate them all. Or there is the possibility to celebrate them if you want. They are not obligated but most people accept that others want to celebrate it. 

New Year’s Day – January 1st

So, everyone wakes up late after a new years eve party, but the die-hards are at the beach just before 12 pm. They go willingly into the freezing ocean at 12. There are different places where the New Years Dive is done. Most of them are in bathing suits, but you also have nudists parts. 

After the dive, they get packed with blankets and winter coats and drink Hot Chocolate. It is meant to be a fresh start for the new year. Most years there are more than 30.000 people that join in. 

We also wish everyone a happy new year when you see someone. Even if you do not know them, you just say it. I hate this part and am always happy that it is only allowed until the 5th of January. 

Three Kings Day – January 6th

We actually do not celebrate this day in Holland. It is the day that the three wise men visited Jesus. I never celebrated this, but in the supermarkets are extra candies for sale. If they celebrate this, the kids go door to door, dressed as the three wise men. 

Valentine – February 14th

This one is worldwide. The day of love. Tradition for the guys to buy candies and flowers for their girl and give some extra love. 

I, personally, do not like this. You should show your love every day, right? Not only one day in the year. I always go to the supermarket the day after, because the chocolates are 50% off then. Did somebody say, sweets? 

Carnaval – March 3-5th

One big party. This is mostly celebrated in the south and it is big. Three days of dressing up, drinking, dancing and watching parades. The end of Carnaval is at midnight when the 40 days before Easter begin. 

White Thursday and Good Friday – April 18-19th

White Thursday is the day of the Last Supper. There are services in every church where everyone gets a sip of wine and a piece of bread. There is also The Passion on TV. Some famous Dutch people act like Jesus and his disciples and sing songs. It is a big thing and if you are not there in person, you watch it on TV.

Good Friday is the day of the crucifixion. This day is not that big. The people that missed the Passion, watch it on Friday.

Easter – April 21 and 22

On the first day of Easter, the whole family has breakfast together. I always wanted to do it big, so the whole table would be full of food. From deviled eggs to pancakes and scones. 

I would start cooking around 8 am and the family would join around 11 am. Some people do it like this at home, but it is also possible to go to a restaurant. They offer a special menu with all kinds of things. 

The second day of Easter is in my family exactly the same. Because I would have made way too much food, we eat the rest and take a walk on the beach. 

King’s Day – April 27th

The birthday of the King. It just to be Queens day on the 31st, but now we have a king, so they changed it. But the day is the same as always. 

Everyone wears the color orange, the color from Holland, and enjoy all the activities there are. Sports clubs organize competitions, there are flea markets everywhere and in the evening there is one big party. 

Let’s just say that most people do not remember how they got home. There are also some festivals that start at 11 am and finish at 12 am. 

There is so much to do that everyone has fun. I always go to the flea market to make some extra money. My whole family would give me things they didn’t want anymore and I would sell it. 

This is definitely a day tourist love, to see all the locals go crazy because they love their country. 

Commemoration of Dead – May 4th

This is our day to remember all the soldiers that died protecting the country. At 8 pm, everyone is quiet for 2 minutes, and even the buses and trains stand still. This is to honor the soldiers and take 2 minutes to think of them. 

There are also different services at monuments. 

Freedom day – May 5th

The day we celebrate being freed from the Germans in World War II. There are some big festivals around the country. 

Mother’s day – May 12th

The day we use to show some extra love for our moms. Most kids make her breakfast in bed, buy some flowers or bake her a cake. 

Just a note: Don’t use only this day to show her some love! Just tell her sometime and do something nice! Make her a cup of coffee or just tell her that you appreciate it! 

Ascension Day – May 30th

This is really big in my hometown. It is the start of the Beach season, so there is a big market and live music all over the beach in Hoek van Holland. 

* Let me warn you, Half of Holland will be in Hoek van Holland this day. If you do not like people, stay away* 

There are a lot of things to do, so look up what there is to do where you are staying!

Suikerfeest /Eid al-Fitr – June 5th

After 30 days of the abstinence, the Muslims celebrate is with one big party. If you translate ‘Suikerfeest ‘it says ‘Sugar Party’. Does anyone want in?

They start the party in the mosque with a prayer and they hug and kiss everyone. The party takes a few days because they visit everyone they care for. Friends and Family, but also the poor and the dead.

They use this time to say thank you and sorry to everyone. It is time to fix debates and become friends once again. 

They eat a lot of sweets (hence the name sugar party) and the kids often get presents. The kids often try to join the abstinence for a few days, but most participants are 14+.

Whitsun – June 9-10th

50 days after Easter. These two days are full of fairs, fun, and fires. There are a lot of bonfires. 

I can not tell you exactly what there is, as every city is different and some people celebrate and others not. But there is something to do if you want it. 

Father’s Day – June 16th

The day to thank your father for everything he does for you. Basically the same as mother’s day, but for your dad. 

So also this day: PLEASE do not thank your dad only today. Thank him when you think of it. Just when he does something nice or you feel like a hug. 

Keti Koti – July 1st

I have to be honest. I did not know this one exists, but after reading about it, I love it!

It is the day to celebrate the end of slavery and if you translate the name it means ‘chains broken’. There are some big parties and most participants are from Surinam, Antilian or African countries

Offerfeest/Eid al-Adha – August 11th

The most important holiday in Islam. If you translate the name it means ‘sacrifice fest or party’. Every Muslim that can afford it, sacrifices a sheep, goat or cow. The meat is separated into three parts. One for the family, one for the friends or neighbors and one part for the poor. 

All the Muslims have to on a pilgrim to Mecca once in their life. They end there on Eid Al-Adha. If they do no the pilgrim, they celebrate it in their own country. 

Prince Day – September 17th

The start of a new work year for the government. The king drives through The Hague in the Golden Carriage and ends up in the most important square. 

Here he reads the plans for the new year. New rules, budget plans and new plans for that year. The schools in the Hague are closes, so the kids can see the king driving through the city. 

Halloween – October 31st

My dream is to celebrate Halloween in the USA! It is still very small in Holland, but it is growing. 

We do not go door to door, but there are different activities throughout the country. The most famous one is Walibi Fright Nights. Walibi is a theme park and during October it is full of zombies, vampire and scary clowns. There are also a few haunted houses. 

In a lot of towns, there are Halloween walks for the kids. They can dress up and parade through the town. There are different parts where they hear a scary story or there is a parent dressed up. 

St Martin’s Day – November 11th

St Martin is not very big in the town I live in, but in some parts it is pretty big. Kids go door to door to get candy or fruits. 

The kids all walk with a little light and that makes them already happy. The candy is just an extra. 

They celebrate the name day of Saint Martin. 

Sinterklaas/Santa Claus – December 5th

Oh, I love this one. Maybe because it is also my birthday, but also because I love the food and the story! 

So, Sinterklaas is a Saint from Spain who freed a lot of slaves. Now the slaves work for him and help him making kids happy. Two weeks before December 5th, The Zwarte Pieten (Black Pete’s in English…) and Sinterklaas arrive by a steamboat. 

The whole county comes to the harbor to welcome them. The kids dressed like the Zwarte Pieten and singing songs. The pieten thrown candy around and Sinterklaas rides his horse to his ‘office’. 

In the evening, the kids put a shoe with a carrot and a drawing. The carrot for the horse and the drawing for Sinterklaas. They sing special songs and then go to bed. When they wake up, the carrot and drawing are gone and candy and a small present appeared. 

On December 5th, the big day, the whole family is together and they hear a knock or another noise. When the kids go and look, there is a big bag of presents. Sometimes Sinterklaas and some pieten are coming by. 

The most famous song includes the sentence ‘Wie goed is krijgt lekkers, wie stout is de roe’. The sweet kids get candy and the bad ones get the cane. So the bad kids do not get presents, but also have to go back to Spain with Sinterklaas. 

I always tried to be bad enough, so I could go to Spain with them, but it never worked. The story is that Sinterklaas rides his horse on the roofs and the pieten go into the houses through the chimneys. 

Sinterklaas translates to Santa Claus, but it is a whole different holiday. Santa Claus has another name in Dutch.  We eat some typical Dutch food during these two weeks, including my favorite Kruitnoten,

More information about Sinterklaas and how we celebrate.

Christmas – December 24-26th

So first the Santa Claus thing. We call him the Kerstman. Or the Christmas guy in English. 

On Christmas Eve, everyone tries to be at home with their family. A lot of people go to the church, but I always spend in on the couch watching Christmas movies and drinking hot chocolate. 

On First Christmas day, we go visit family and enjoy just being with each other. We use the day as an excuse to cook something fancy. 

Second Christmas day, we visit the other side of the family and another day of fancy cooking. 

When you are a kid, you get presents from Santa. When you turn older, we do Secret Santa or do not even get any gifts. Well, not because we HAVE to, just because we WANT to give presents to the people we love. 

Can you see why I love Christmas? 

Holidays in the Netherlands

So these are the official holidays in the Netherlands, we also have a list of special days. Those will come later! Like a day that we do not put the heater on, but just wear 3 sweaters?

Let me know what you think and which holiday I should celebrate in your country!

Please share if you like it!

Mothers Day in the Netherlands
Christmas in Holland
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  • 10 February 2019

    What a cool post! It’s not often that I think about other countries having different holidays (except for Canada as they are right next to us) so this is fun. I’d love to read more about other countries too!!

  • Arunima Dey | Namaste, Solo Travel!

    11 February 2019

    Very interesting. I am quite surprised that you have two holidays for Eid. We have three but then India has a huge Muslim population. Three Kings Day was also something I saw in Spain. And yes, definitely my favourite would the Santa Claus Day, it did not turn out to be what I initially thought it was when I read the title haha

  • 11 February 2019

    We like to try and coincide our travels with national celebration days so this is useful! We’re in the UK – one of the unique festivals here is Bonfire Night on 5th November. Firework displays and public gatherings all over the country, it’s really cool.

  • Sippin Gypsy

    11 February 2019

    I love to experience other holidays from around the world! I love this list to help sort out travel options for Holland! Cheers!

  • 11 February 2019

    Such an amazing list of holidays! Some of the celebrations I’ve never heard about before but it’s great learning about different cultures!

  • 13 February 2019

    It’s so good to know when the holidays are and what they are before visiting a place. I’ve heard amazing things about King’s Day!


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