Christmas in the Netherlands Posted by heather on Dec 20, 2011 in Culture, Dutch Language
Are all your Christmas decorations up? Are there presents under your tree? There are only five more days to go before the big day. I hope you are ready. To get you into the Christmas mood, Dutch style, here are some things you might like to know about Christmas in the Netherlands.
In the Netherlands there is Eerste Kerstdag and Tweede Kerstdag (First Christmas Day and Second Christmas Day). It is quite common to spend one Christmas day with one side of the family and the other day with the other side, although every family is different of course!
These greetings (with rough translations) will get you through the holidays, sounding like a native Dutch speaker:
- Vrolijk Kerstfeest or Vrolijk Kerstmis (Happy Christmas party/feast)
- Prettige Kerstdagen or Prettig Kerstmis (Enjoyable Christmas Days/Merry Christmas)
- Fijne Dagen or Fijne Kerstdagen (Nice Days – can be used for other holidays)
- Gelukkig Kerstmis – (Happy Christmas)
Christmas may result in a general post slowdown what with all those extra letters and packages that have to be delivered. But the post service in the Netherlands has tried to alleviate your pain a bit with a little something known as “Decemberzegels” or “Kerstzegels.” These special post stamps are only valid from November 22nd tot en met (to and including) January 6th. Each stamp is at a discounted rate and every year they look different (this year they are really cute!).
Pas Op! (Watch Out!): The stamps are only valid for items that weigh 0-50 grams and also only for post sent within the Netherlands.
A tradition that appears in the Netherlands around Sinterklaas and Christmas time is the gratis (free) gift wrapping. When you head up to the check-out with your purchases, you will often be asked, “is dit een kadootje?” (is this a gift?). If you answer ja (yes), your item will be transformed into a present fit for presenting directly to the receiver without a single request for money. It is possible that the text en/of (and/or) stickers will give away where your gift was purchased and you may wait quite some time with a large queue forming behind you because the cashier is typically the same person with gift wrapping responsibilities but still a nice touch, especially if you are late with buying your presents!