Food Living in North Holland The Netherlands

How the Dutch celebrate Christmas

The Dutch enjoy the holiday season a lot and festivities begin early! We even saw Christmas treats in our supermarket in October! Sometimes it feels like Christmas season starts earlier each year but the traditions always stay the same. So how do the Dutch celebrate Christmas?

Christmas Markets
I’ve written about Christmas Markets before but it’s such a huge part of Christmas in The Netherlands. Christmas decorations hang from every store front in America. Outdoor house decorations get larger and crazier each year. That level of holiday dedication isn’t common in The Netherlands. Instead holiday enjoyers flock to the Christmas Markets to get their holiday cheer on. Even if we don’t go to buy anything, it’s exciting to see all the markets selling their wares.

Delicious dinners
The Dutch typically do gourmetten but this year we’re having cheese fondue! The best thing about Dutch holidays is all the food! There’s always more than enough to go around and it is delicious. Don’t forget though, if you come early you’re going to get a served a cake or pastry with your coffee! My favorite holiday snack is a bite sized gingerbread cookie with a salted caramel coat… We’ve gone through several bags now! And then after dinner comes dessert so make sure you have enough room in your belly!

Family times
The Dutch always take the time to visit family. The Netherlands is so small that travelling takes no time at all. Sometimes these family gatherings are huge and sometimes they’re intimate. Other times, family doesn’t mean blood relations. A friend from Sander’s mom comes to celebrate every year with us. It’s a beautiful and touching display of how family includes everyone. That’s just how the Dutch celebrate Christmas!

Not one but two
The Dutch celebrate Christmas on two days, the 25th and the 26th. The 26th is the Tweede Kerstdag, or 2nd Christmas day. In other parts of Europe, it’s known as Boxing day! I had no idea that the name Boxing day comes from when the donation boxes open to collect for those in need. While the Dutch don’t observe it as such, it is an extra day off for family and relaxation. We didn’t celebrate Boxing day in California so Tweede Kerstdag is still interesting for me to observe.

I hope everyone has a wonderful and safe Christmas! I still have a few more posts before the New Year hits so until then, Happy Holidays!


Let me just note that this is how I’ve experienced Christmas in The Netherlands and I can’t speak for everyone!

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