Dutch people celebrate the Queen's Birthday on April 30
as a national holiday. Although it is actually the birthdate of the former
queen, Juliana, Queen Beatrix has continued the tradition to honour her mother.
Beatrix became queen in a ceremony on April 30, 1980. The festivities on
this day include colourful street fairs and markets, folk dancing, fairs and
In some towns people still wear traditional costumes on
the Queen's Birthday and also at Easter and Pentecost. These costumes vary
from place to place, but all are colourful and elaborate. Traditional costume
for women includes lace caps, striped skirts and embroidered blouses.
May 5 is Liberation Day, which marks the end of the German
occupation during the Second World War. On the evening of May 4, people attend
ceremonies that recall the suffering during the war. They lay wreaths at graveyards
and monuments and observe two minutes of silence at 8 p.m. The next day the country
celebrates. There are fairs and carnivals featuring games for children. People
hold yard sales and enjoy looking for bargains.
Did you know? |
In the southern, mainly Catholic provinces, people celebrate before Lent with a
huge carnival that lasts for three days and nights of merrymaking and parades.
Children look forward to Sinterklaas Eve, the Feast of
St. Nicholas, in early December. This saint is the patron saint of sailors,
merchants and children. Youngsters believe Sinterklaas and his assistant Piet
ride across the rooftops listening to find out who is behaving well. Children
tuck into their shoes a treat of hay and carrots for the saint's white horse.
Next morning they find a small present in their shoes.
Sinterklaas's "helpers" also scatter candy and little
cookies called pepernoten around the house for children to find. People
exchange presents and light-hearted poems that are meant to make the recipient
blush. The giver never signs his or her name. People call out, "Thank you,
Sinterklaas!" Even in Parliament, poems that poke a little good-natured fun
are read out and enjoyed.
Christmas Day itself is a quiet time for relaxing with
family, singing carols or going to church services. Sometimes people exchange
presents. On Second Christmas Day, December 26, families enjoy a traditional
dinner of rabbit, goose or turkey. New Year's Eve is also celebrated with family
at home. At midnight ships blow their whistles, church bells ring and fireworks
light up the sky. People rush outside to greet friends and neighbours and wish
them a happy New Year.
Did you know? |
Some Dutch farmers announce the Christmas season using long crooked horns made
of hollow branches. They blow these horns standing near their wells to amplify
the eerie sound. From farm to farm, the farmers repeat the call.