Celebrating Christmas as an expat or young professional from another country can be a little bit different than you are used to. Dutch people celebrate Christmas two days in a row: both on 25th and 25th of December.
With a lot of Christmas traditions most Dutch people celebrate Christmas with their family. We will explain some of those traditions down below:
‘Kerstpakket’ (literal translation ‘Christmas Package’)
If you work at a Dutch company, it is most likely you will receive a so called ‘kerstpakket’ in December. You will receive this package annually as a thank you for your hard work last year. Most of the time it will be a basket with food (pasta etc.) It originates from beginning 19th century, when keeping food in winter wasn’t so easy. People would go to farmers with a food basket to wish them a merry Christmas.
Christmas tree after ‘Sinterklaas’
The 5th of December is ‘pakjesavond’. The evening where St. Nicholas ‘leaves back to his hometown Spain’. Traditionally, most Dutch people will wait after this evening until putting up their Christmas tree.
Two days of Christmas
Dutch people celebrate Christmas two days. On December 25th as well as December 26th. During these two days they will spend their time eating, playing games, watching movies and eating Christmas food with their family. Most stores are closed on Christmas Day, but on the 2nd day of Christmas most home furnishing stores are open. Most families will visit these stores as a getaway this day.
In the Netherlands we have traditional Christmas food, but it might not be what you are used to. They are mostly sweets such as kerstkransjes, kerststol, speculaas, oliebollen, appelbeignets and advocaat.
On Christmas Day there are often only two options: or people will arrange a course dinner, or people will fondue/gourmet. They think it is ‘gezellig’ to eat with each other.
So that is how the Dutch celebrate Christmas in a nutshell. How do you celebrate Christmas and what is it like in your homecountry? Tell us more!