Dutch Language Blog

Magical Christmas Markets in the Netherlands Posted by on Dec 7, 2016 in Culture, Dutch Vocabulary

December is here and the Netherlands is in full swing of winter / Christmas activities. There are many places to go and things to eat so get your winter jacket ready to hit the town!


Maastricht Winterland (personal photograph)

Maastricht Winterland (personal photograph)

Many cities and towns have begun setting up their Kerstmarkten. Greatly influenced by the German Christmas markets, Dutch markets are filled with stores, food, ice skating and beautiful decorations. For those of you making plans to visit the beautiful province of Limburg, I highly recommend the market in Valkenburg. It is held inside the old mining caves which is a magical experience on its own.


Ice skating  is another very popular activity. Every winter, hundreds of ice skating areas pop up around the country. The Dutch are quite gifted in this sport breaking records every year so its no surprise that its a favorite past time even for those less gifted than the Olympic athletes.


The first time I heard of this delicious winter drink, I was dubious…hot red wine..ummm. no. I still remember enjoying my first sip in Brugge in what was a terribly cold Easter break. The warmth and deliciousness of the wine made me feel so much better and it has become a hit. I believe glühwein is traditionally German, but over the years it has been ingrained in Dutch and Belgian winter food! It is basically red wine warmed with kaneel, kruidnagel, steranijs and citrusschillen. The following video gives a very simple recipe.


The name says it al: balls of oil. These delicious and yet so unhealthy snacks begin popping up in mid November and are quite honestly delicious. These can be compared to donut holes although I find the Dutch variety greasier than the American donut holes. There are many options to pick from, met poedersuiker, chocoladevulling, kersvulling, etc. 


Making Poffertjes (personal photograph)

Making Poffertjes (personal photograph)

I have saved my favorite Dutch winter food for the end (even though glühwein is definitely a contender). Poffertjes are made with a similar batter as pannekoeken but are small and puffy. These are served with a big clump of butter and, of course, poedersuiker (I personally like to add some maple syrup if I am making them at home). These are also seen in various markets around the Netherlands, but are also very easy to make. The trick is having a well-oiled pan and making sure your flipping skills are awesome!

What is your favorite winter activity?

Related Vocabulary

de winter- winter
de kerst- Christmas
schaatsen- to skate
de sneeuw- snow
sneeuwen- to snow
vriezen- to freeze
de markt- market
kaneel- cinnamon
kruidnagel- clove
steranijs- star anise
citrusschillen- citrus peel
de poedersuiker- powedered sugar

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About the Author: Karoly Molina

Since I was a little girl, I was fascinated with languages and writing. I speak English, Spanish, Italian, Dutch and a little bit of French. I am a writer, reader, language teacher, traveler, and a food lover! I now live in The Netherlands with my husband Riccardo, our cat Mona, and our dog Lisa, and the experience has been phenomenal. The Dutch culture is an exciting sometimes topsy-turvy world that I am happily exploring!