Holidays in the Netherlands are not just about coming together and celebrating; they’re also steeped in traditions and rich meanings. For Dutch expat families living abroad, these traditions often serve as a connection to their homeland and a way to maintain their Dutch identity, even from a distance.

In this blog post, I want to shine a spotlight on a few beloved Dutch holidays and the significance behind the traditions that define them.

King’s Day:

On April 27th, the Netherlands celebrates King’s Day in honor of King Willem-Alexander’s birthday. What once began as Princess Day to celebrate Princess Wilhelmina’s birthday has evolved into a national holiday filled with colorful events, flea markets, and festivities.

Even abroad, King’s Day is sometimes celebrated in certain cities, especially in areas with many Dutch residents.

Sinterklaas:

Sinterklaas, celebrated on December 5th, is one of the most cherished holidays in the Netherlands, especially for children. This traditional celebration revolves around the legendary figure of Sinterklaas, a benevolent man who gives gifts to children.

During this cozy family celebration, most children receive a delicious chocolate letter, gifts, and we enjoy “kruidnoten” and “pepernoten”. As children grow older, they often create surprises for each other, accompanied by a poem.

Christmas:

Christmas is celebrated in the Netherlands on December 25th and 26th and is naturally known for its warm and cozy atmosphere during the dark days. Dutch families often decorate their homes with festive lights, put up the Christmas tree, and we indulge in Christmas wreaths from HEMA, a popular Dutch department store. Who hasn’t grown up with that ;-)?

New Year’s Eve:

New Year’s Eve is celebrated grandly in the Netherlands, with festivities often lasting into the early hours of January 1st. We set off fireworks and indulge in oliebollen (a type of doughnut) and apple turnovers that day. Some people enjoy making these themselves, while others stand in long lines at the “oliebollenkraam”.

These traditions are an integral part of Dutch life, even when you’re far from home. But we’re also curious about your experiences! Which traditions from your host country(ies) have you embraced during your time abroad? Perhaps your child can share something about it during the online Dutch lessons with their teacher at Dutch for Kids!

Written by Anouk Hosman, owner of Dutch for Kids

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