Dutch Language Blog

Dodenherdenking Posted by on May 3, 2009 in Dutch Language

Dodenherdenking means “Rememberence of the Dead.” Dodenherdenking is held every May 4th in the Netherlands. It’s also called Naionale Dodenherdenking or National Memorial Day. On May 4th, the whole country mourns for the dead civilians and soldiers who have died in every war since WWII.

The official ceremony takes place in Dam Square in Amsterdam. There, in Dam Square, there is a national monument that looks like a tall white pillar. The monument commermorates all the victims of the war. Although there are ceremonies that honor the dead in other towns and cities, the most public is in Dam Square. The one in Dam Square is televised. The royal family and other government officials make a public visit to Dam Square on this day.

Around 8 pm Netherlands time, or 19:00 there is a national moment of silence lasting for about two minutes. People use this time to reflect back on the war and those whose lives have been sacrificed during the war. From 8 to 9:30 pm all public transportation and television programming are cut off. The Dutch flag is hoisted half mast, and the Dutch national anthem called the Wilhelmus is sung.

This day is a very solemn day in the Netherlands. In some towns and villages you’ll see flowers and cards strewn all over the cemeteries. Since Dodenherdenking is a national holiday, some shops are closed as well. If you’re a tourist in the Netherlands this time of the year, keep in mind that complaining about closed facilities makes you look insensitive. Just go with the flow and prepare for store closings ahead of time.

Tot ziens! (Good bye)

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