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A Useful Guide to Dutch Culture and Customs

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The first step in becoming comfortable in another country is to understand its culture. This will help you avoid the so-called ‘culture shock’ during your stay and make your interactions with natives more enjoyable. Learning about Dutch culture will not only make your experience in the Netherlands that much smoother, but it can also accelerate your language learning!

Well, you’ve come to the right place to learn everything you need to know about Dutch culture and customs. The Netherlands may be a small country, but it has a lot of culture to discover. It’s known for its progressive and explorative spirit, art, architecture, food, and even some special holiday traditions—all of which we’ll cover in this handy Dutch culture guide!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Dutch Table of Contents
  1. Dutch Cultural Values and Beliefs
  2. Dutch Religions
  3. Relationships
  4. Different Dutch Art Forms
  5. Dutch Food
  6. Dutch Holidays
  7. How DutchPod101 Can Help You Learn More Dutch

1. Dutch Cultural Values and Beliefs

Every culture has a set of widely shared ideologies that influence the daily lives of its people. Here are just a few key values and beliefs in modern Dutch culture that you should know about.

A- Tolerance (Verdraagzaamheid)

In the Netherlands, tolerance (verdraagzaamheid) is a prominent Dutch cultural value and it’s taught to children from a young age. The Dutch tradition of tolerance revolves around having respect for people’s freedom of choice regarding their attitudes and beliefs. However, there are parts of the Netherlands that are “more tolerant” than other parts. For example, Randstad and other larger cities tend to show a greater degree of tolerance toward others than smaller cities do. Take Amsterdam, for example. Here, the Dutch tradition of tolerance is clearly noticeable in the streets where you can find gay bars, coffee shops, and the red light district.

Many Dutch people are very proud of their country’s progressiveness on social and moral issues, such as LGBTIQ rights, soft drugs, euthanasia, and freedom of speech. However, a more conservative and intolerant attitude has become noticeable in the Netherlands in recent years, with politicians and other people campaigning against migration and other cultures. A study also shows that the younger generations (20-30 years old) are less progressive than the older generations. Nevertheless, many Dutch people still highly value tolerance and open-mindedness. 

B- Pragmatism

The Dutch may be some of the most pragmatic people in the world. 

They’re practical, down-to-earth, and realistic in their way of reasoning and approaching things. They tend to rationalize and analyze everything before proceeding with their actions. In addition, they’re very functional and try to find the “best way” to do something. This makes them very innovative and explorative in their way of doing things, leading to new inventions and progressive business ideas. This may also make them less spontaneous, more frugal, or even “boring,” but the Dutch just love calculating things. This has led them to some great results in business and other sectors.

Don’t worry! The Dutch do know how to have fun and relax; their pragmatic side mostly comes up in work situations.

C- Directness

Because they’re so pragmatic, the Dutch are also quite direct. 

This Dutch directness is well-known among foreigners, who often have to adjust to this behavior. At first, it may come across as rude, but it does have its positive side. Their honesty and direct communication help them achieve the best results in work and relationships.

Dutch people, in general, will let you know what they think. They don’t play games and people are frank if they don’t like something. While there are no lies to save your feelings, at least you won’t be let down by someone’s dishonesty. 

D- Privacy

The Netherlands is a small country with a large population for its size (in fact, it’s the country with the highest population density in Europe). This may be why Dutch culture values privacy so much. 

While the Dutch prefer privacy in their homes and workspaces, this longing for privacy also extends to their interactions with other people. This guarded behavior is only relaxed when around friends, family members, or close colleagues. The Dutch need some time to get to know other people before they open up. Try to respect this need for privacy—with time, you’ll notice a change in this behavior.

The privateness of the Dutch is related to another Dutch cultural value: modesty. The Dutch don’t like to brag about their accomplishments or wealth. They prefer to keep this private so as to promote fairness and equality in Dutch society.

2. Dutch Religions

Compared to many other cultures, religion plays a small role in modern-day Dutch culture and traditions. Still, it’s an important element to consider if you want to gain a complete view of the society. Here’s what you need to know about religion in the Netherlands! 

A- Religion in Dutch Society

The Netherlands previously had a practice called verzuiling (“pillarization“). This is the segregation of religious, social, and cultural groups through the creation of social and political institutions for each group. These groups would have their own schools, hospitals, newspapers, and TV channels. The (political) leaders of each group collaborated with each other to make sure they all had the same rights and functions, creating a smooth and articulated public life. 

This ideological and religious segregation lasted until the 1970s, after which the Netherlands experienced rapid secularization. Nowadays, religion plays a relatively small role in politics and society. However, you can still see remains of this practice in Dutch society, as there remain to be certain schools and media connected to a certain religion.

B- Dominant Religions in the Netherlands

In the Netherlands, almost half of the population (42%) identifies with no religion. Aside from that, the religiosity of the Netherlands is characterized by its diversity: 23% of the Dutch population is Catholic, 14% are Reformed Protestant, 7% are Dutch Reformed, and 4% are Muslim.

The rapid secularization of the Netherlands in the 1970s led to a decreasing role of religion in Dutch culture. The only real exception would be communities in the Dutch Bible Belt, which runs through and around the cities of Zierikzee, Dordrecht, Utrecht, Zwolle, and Assen. 

On the other hand, one religion that has been growing in the Netherlands is Islam. The majority of Muslims in the Netherlands come from migrant families from North Africa and the Middle East. The Dutch Muslim population mainly lives in the cities of the Randstad.

    → Would you like to learn more about religion in the Dutch language? Have a look at the useful Religion vocabulary list from DutchPod101.

3. Relationships

One major window into other cultures is how different relationships are expected to be viewed, formed, and maintained. In this section, we’ll tell you all about the Dutch culture and customs regarding family, couples, friends, and colleagues.

A- Family

What Do You Think of the Dutch Family?

The family serves as the foundation of the Dutch social structure. 

However, families tend to be relatively small with only one or two children. Dutch family culture mainly focuses on the nuclear family, and less on the extended kin. This small group of family members remains important and central to the individual throughout their life. Because different members of a family tend to live close to each other, the Dutch do form relationships with extended family members, but to a lesser degree.

However, in the tolerant Dutch society a lot of other living arrangements and family forms are accepted as well. These include single-parent households, same-sex couples with children, and divorced couples that share responsibility for their children.

In Dutch society, independence is very much stimulated and young people are encouraged to leave their home at the age of 18 to study or work. However, this is not always possible due to increasing university costs and housing shortages in the bigger cities of the Netherlands.


B- Couples

In Dutch culture, dating practices are quite similar to those of other North-European countries or the United States. Throughout high school, teenagers socialize with and date peers from school, the neighborhood, or other social activities. 

The Dutch consider it normal to start dating different people at a young age or to have several relationships before moving in together or marrying. Not all couples marry, although the practice has become a bit more popular among younger generations. It’s common for a couple to marry after living together for many years.

The marriage ceremony generally entails two events: a civil registration and a celebration (which is usually a religious ceremony or a wedding party). LGBTIQ couples also have the right to marry. In 2001, the Netherlands was the first country to legalize same-sex marriage.

    → Would you like to find a little Dutch romance? Try our list of the cheesiest Dutch Quotes About Love to express your feelings in Dutch.

C- Friends

Friends play a central role in Dutch culture. As the Dutch are encouraged to be independent from a young age, they’re also encouraged to make lasting and reliant friendships. The Dutch often have friends from primary school, high school, university, work, and so on. They have different groups of friends and often see them separately—it’s not common to mix these different groups.

Do you want to make a Dutch friend? The Dutch may seem a bit cold or distant at first. It might be difficult to move from acquaintance status to friend status. However, when they open up, the Dutch are very loyal friends. So it’s a friendship that is worth the wait (and effort)!

D- Colleagues

In the Netherlands, relationships between colleagues differ from job to job depending on the formality of the workplace or industry. However, Dutch work relationships tend to be formal and quite reserved. They’re not very touchy-feely at work and appreciate it if other colleagues remain at a certain (emotional) distance. 

However, once people have been colleagues for a long(er) time, the Dutch open up and some friendships may develop. It’s quite common to have lunch together or to have drinks after work every now and then. These are the perfect moments to get to know your Dutch colleagues better.

    → Are you going to work in the Netherlands? Then discover our vocabulary list for Talking About the Workplace, with useful audio recordings to improve your pronunciation.

4. Different Dutch Art Forms

The Netherlands has a diverse cultural sector with a wide range of art forms: painting, architecture, music, television, and more. The Dutch art scene has many home-grown influences, and has also been influenced by many other world cultures.

A- Dutch Painting

The Netherlands has quite the painting legacy, with artists like Rembrandt van Rijn and Vincent van Gogh lining the halls of its history. While the seventeenth century painter Rembrandt van Rijn is known for the Night Watch (De Nachtwacht) and his use of light and shadows, the nineteenth century painter Vincent van Gogh is known for the Sunflowers (Zonnebloemen) and his impact on the development of modern art. 

Other great painters from the Netherlands include still-life artist Johannes Vermeer and geometrical pioneer Piet Mondrian. 

If you want to see the masterpieces of these and other painters, you can visit one of the many museums in Amsterdam: 

  • Rijksmuseum (Rembrandt and Vermeer)
  • The Van Gogh Museum
  • The Stedelijk Museum (contemporary art)

There are great museums in other cities as well, such as the Haags Gemeentemuseum (Mondrian) and the Mauritshuis (Rembrandt and Vermeer) in the Hague. Another great option is the Kröller-Muller Museum (impressionism, expressionism) in Otterloo.   

B- Dutch Architecture

The Dutch love architecture, both old and new. In the Netherlands, you can enjoy a lot of architectural pearls, as the Dutch have mastered this art form. This is shown in the country’s architectural landscape, from Pieter Post and his Dutch Baroque works to the twenty-first century practitioners such as Rem Koolhaas. But let’s not forget the De Stijl architect Gerrit Thomas Rietveld either, who designed The Schroeder House in Utrecht, which is an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Rotterdam Is a City with Amazing Modern Dutch Architecture.

C- Dutch Music

The first thing you should know about Dutch music culture is that the Dutch have a strange relationship with music from their home country. Some may not listen to it at all, some may prefer music from abroad, and still others may prefer Dutch music sung in English. Of course, there are also fans of Dutch music sung in Dutch, but the Dutch tend to listen more to foreign music. 

Let’s dissect the music scene a bit:

On the pop and rock music scene, you can find artists who sing in English (Anouk and Kane) and artists who sing in Dutch (Jan Smit and André Hazes). The latter type of music is labeled volksmuziek (“folk music”), and it’s highly sentimental. Other popular Dutch pop, rock, and indie artists that sing in Dutch include Eefje de Visser, Doe Maar, Bløf, and Spinvis.

There’s a booming Dutch hip hop (Nederhop) scene, where rappers like Fakkelbrigade rap in Dutch. 

Last but not least, we have to mention the Dutch influence on electronic music as well, with the most famous names being Tiesto and DJ Hardwell.

D- Dutch Television & Films

The Dutch film industry is relatively small and there is very little international interest in Dutch films. For these reasons, the industry depends greatly on state funding. Popular Dutch movies are: Turks Fruit, All Stars, Soldaat van Oranje, Ciske de Rat, and Alles is Liefde

On Dutch television, you can watch a lot of foreign programs (with Dutch subtitles) and a lot of Dutch sitcoms, game shows, and soaps. The most famous Dutch soap is Goede Tijden, Slechte Tijden (“Good Times, Bad Times”), and a typical Dutch TV show is Boer Zoekt Vrouw (“Farmer Looks for Wife”). And yes, as the name implies, it’s a Dutch dating show for farmers.

5. Dutch Food 

Dutch cuisine has several influences from abroad, but there are also some authentic Dutch dishes and unique Dutch food products that you should definitely try when visiting the Netherlands.

A- Top 5 Dutch Dishes

Here is a selection of five delicious Dutch dishes you should definitely try:

  1. Bitterballen
    These deep-fried crispy meatballs are a popular Dutch pre-dinner snack that you’ll find on the menu of a lot of bars and even restaurants. They’re traditionally served with mustard.

  2. AVG
    AVG is short for Aardappelen, Vlees, en Groente (“Potatoes, Meat, and Vegetables”). This true Dutch classic is the base of every traditional Dutch meal.

  3. Stamppot
    Stamppot literally means “mash pot” and it’s a mix of mashed potato and vegetables such as kale, endive, cabbage, carrot, or sauerkraut. It’s often served with meat on the side (or sometimes mixed through) and gravy.

  4. Pannenkoeken
    Pannenkoeken, or Dutch “pancakes,” are thinner than the thick American pancakes but thicker than the French ones. They can be eaten with a wide range of toppings: syrup, powdered sugar (called poedersuiker in Dutch), apple, bacon, cheese, and many other savory or sweet toppings.

  5. Appeltaart
    The Dutch “apple pie” has a delicious cinnamon taste and its apple filling is mixed with raisins and sometimes even walnuts. The true Dutch “grandmother’s” apple pie, oma’s appeltaart, is a classic dessert or a perfect sweet snack during the day.

Would you like to learn how to order food in Dutch restaurants? Then have a look at this practical list of the Most Useful Phrases and Vocabulary for Ordering Food or this Restaurant vocabulary list.

B- Some Unique Dutch Products

Dutch cheese is a national pride. The Dutch simply love their cheese. They mainly eat it on bread—boterham met kaas (“slice of bread with cheese”)—but they also enjoy it as a snack, or blokjes kaas (“little cubes of cheese”). Next time you’re in the Netherlands, try the world-famous Dutch Goudse kaas (“Gouda cheese”). There are a lot of tasty Dutch cheeses to try, but Gouda is the true classic.

Do You Like Dutch Cheese?

You’ll also find that the Dutch have a sweet tooth, so there are a lot of unique Dutch sweets you should try: 

  • stroopwafel (“syrup waffle”) – the most famous Dutch cookie
  • hagelslag – sprinkles which the Dutch mainly use to sprinkle on their bread
  • drop (“liquorice”) – can be sweet or salty

Would you like to learn more about Dutch food? Then you can’t miss our tasty guide to traditional Dutch food.

6. Dutch Holidays 

Even a basic knowledge of the national holidays and traditions will give you a better understanding of the culture of the Netherlands. There are many different Dutch holidays, so we’ll just cover the most important ones here.

A- King’s Day

Koningsdag (“King’s Day”) is celebrated on April 27, three days before the birthday of the Dutch King Willem-Alexander. Prior to this, the holiday was called Koninginnedag (“Queen’s Day”) and celebrated on April 30. It’s a national holiday involving a lot of flea markets, parties, and traditional activities. Every year, the royal family visits a different city. 

    → Check out our King’s Day word list for useful vocabulary about this Dutch holiday!

B- Liberation Day

Bevrijdingsdag (“Liberation Day”) is when the Dutch celebrate their liberation during World War II. It has been celebrated on May 5 every year since 1945 and it was declared a national holiday in 1990. Many cultural activities are planned on this Dutch holiday, such as bevrijdingsfestivals (“Liberation Day festivals”) with music and other activities. 

    → Would you like to expand your Dutch vocabulary? Have a look at our Liberation Day word list and celebrate this holiday like a true Dutchie.

C- Sinterklaas

The Dutch have their own Santa Claus: Sinterklaas. Three weeks before December 5, he arrives by steamboat with his helpers de Pieten. Their arrival is shown live on television, but a lot of children and their parents also go to the docks to see it in person. For the next three weeks, Sinterklaas and his helpers visit children at school or leave behind some sweet treat during the night. Then on December 5 (his birthday), he comes by their houses with even more presents.

D- Christmas and New Year’s Eve

Kerst (“Christmas”) in the Netherlands is celebrated on December 25 (eerste kerstdag, “first Christmas day”) and December 26 (tweede kerstdag, “second Christmas day”). Both are national holidays, spent with family over a nice Christmas dinner (or lunch).

Oudejaarsavond (“Old Year’s Evening”) is mostly celebrated with family and/or friends. People eat oliebollen (“Dutch doughnuts”), drink some bubbles, and set off fireworks. The Dutch also have a crazy tradition on New Year’s Day, where people go to the beach to take a New Year’s Dive (nieuwjaarsduik) in the ice-cold seawater.

What Do You Like the Most about Dutch Culture?

7. How DutchPod101 Can Help You Learn More Dutch

In this Dutch culture guide, you’ve learned the basics concerning Dutch culture and customs, from values and beliefs to relationships and food. Do you feel like you understand the Dutch culture a bit better? Do you think it will inspire you to improve your Dutch learning even more? We encourage you to make some use of the insight and knowledge we’ve provided here!

Make sure to explore DutchPod101.com and our multiple vocabulary lists with audio recordings and other free resources. Our aim is to help you understand the Dutch language and culture even more. 

Remember that you can also use the DutchPod101 Premium PLUS service, MyTeacher, to get personal one-on-one coaching so that you can really master the Dutch language. You’ll have your own private teacher who will help you with your pronunciation, review your work, and discuss any Dutch cultural topic you want to know more about. 

Happy learning!

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The Dutch Carnaval: Who Wants Another Beer?

If you grew up celebrating Halloween, then you already have a good idea of the main component of Carnaval celebrations in the Netherlands: dressing up in costume! But what about the bar-hopping? Or the insane float parades? And how exactly did this holiday originate? 

In this article, we’ll discuss the key aspects of Carnaval in the Netherlands and provide you with a list of useful vocabulary to know for the holiday. Enjoy!

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1. What is Carnival in the Netherlands?

A Giant Clown Float

Carnival (also spelled Carnaval) is a three-day Christian celebration observed in several countries around the world. The Dutch Carnaval is mainly celebrated in the nation’s southernmost regions—especially in Limburg and Brabant—which are largely Katholiek (Catholic)

The holiday originated from a pagan tradition that encouraged heavy feasting prior to winter food shortages. Over time, Carnival became more associated with Catholicism and eventually came to be celebrated as a way to indulge and use up perishable food before Lent.

However, even in the more religious regions of the Netherlands, Carnival has lost most (if not all) of its religious meaning. From a social point of view, the holiday is also a time to reverse societal roles: those who are poor can mock the rich by wearing silly clothing, people can show defiance toward authorities, and everyone is expected to dress like—and become—a different person or character for the duration of the holiday. 

Carnival in the Netherlands is really just a time of fun, laughter, and letting go of one’s daily worries and frustrations. It can be a crazy time, but also an opportunity to make great memories! 


2. Dutch Carnival Dates

Because the dates of Carnival depend on the dates of Easter and Lent, it takes place on a different day each year. The holiday immediately precedes the other major religious holidays of Vastenavond (Shrove Tuesday) and Aswoensdag (Ash Wednesday). For your convenience, here’s an overview of its start and end dates for the next ten years. 

  • 2021: February 14 – February 16
  • 2022: February 27 – March 1 
  • 2023: February 19 – February 21
  • 2024: February 11 – February 13
  • 2025: March 2 – March 4
  • 2026: February 15 – February 17
  • 2027: February 7 – February 9
  • 2028: February 27 – February 29
  • 2029: February 11 – February 13
  • 2030: March 3 – March 5

3. Traditions for the Dutch Carnival 

Men Hanging Out at a Pub

This vibrant traditie (tradition) begins once a “key to the city” has been given to the Carnival Prince, a member of the region who has been chosen by the Carnival Committee. Once the keys have been handed over, it’s time to unlock the fun! 

From this moment on, you can find myriads of people in any given kroeg (pub). Drinking is a major part of this holiday, and rightfully so—Carnival is meant to be a time of lightheartedness and jest. It’s also the perfect occasion to feesten (party) and don a unique kostuum (costume). Many people verkleden (dress up) as clowns, jesters, royalty, animals, food items, and even as the opposite gender!

People perform a popular dance during this holiday called the Polonaise. This is a traditional Polish dance (Polonais is French for “Polish”), and it was first incorporated into Dutch Carnival celebrations in the 1400s. It is a slow style of dance done in triple meter. Another popular dance style is the hossen, during which a group of people jumps up and down together. 

If you want to experience a Carnival parade, the Netherlands will have plenty of them! Special Carnival associations often put on parades featuring outlandish floats, which often depict political and/or religious leaders, as well as recent events, in a less-than-stellar light. Many of the parades will start at 11:11 or 12:11 (because eleven is seen as a fool’s number), and you can find these parades in most southern and eastern regions. Keep reading for additional information on where to visit for the best experience. 

4. Best Places for Carnival in the Netherlands

Are you planning to visit the Netherlands for Carnival in the near future? Then you should prepare your trip in advance by deciding which locations you’ll want to hit! Keep in mind that, during the three days of Carnival, all participating cities change their names. 

Here are a few Limburg and Brabant Carnaval celebrations you shouldn’t miss.

Maastricht 

  • Carnival Name: Mestreech 

The Maastricht Carnival celebrations are the largest in the entire country, with a range of events and activities to take part in. If you want to experience a lot of festivity in a shorter amount of time, this is the place to be! 

The most notable event is the eleven shots fired at exactly 12:11 in the afternoon of the first celebration day, which takes place after the raising of the Prince’s Flag. From that point on, you can look forward to an exciting, largely outdoor Carnival experience. From a brass band competition to dancing, parades, and family-friendly events, there’s something for everyone! A short hour’s drive away, you’ll also find plenty of celebrations going on in Eindhoven. 

Tilburg 

Tilburg is most known for its orchestras, concerts, and pub crawling—the perfect combination, don’t you think? Of course, you can also enjoy watching the Tilburg Carnaval parade with a drink (or two) in hand! 

Den Bosch

Den Bosch may simultaneously have the most family-friendly and the most unique celebrations in the Netherlands. It’s notorious for its Youth Carnival, featuring a parade geared toward younger audiences (no inappropriate floats like you’re bound to see in other parades). To end the Den Bosch celebrations, a doll dressed as a farmer is buried; this is a symbolic show of respect for someone named Knillis who is said to have founded the city. 

Venlo

  • Carnival Name: Jocus Riék

The first thing you should know is that while Maastricht might have the largest celebration, Venlo has the oldest. If you visit Venlo for Carnival, you can look forward to 12+ parades, a Boétezitting event, and a farmer’s wedding event. Check it out! 

5. Vocabulary to Know Before Carnival

Traditional Dutch Wooden Shoes with Tulips in Them

To conclude, let’s take a look at some useful vocabulary associated with Carnival in the Netherlands:

  • Kermis (Fair) – feminine noun 
  • Kroeg (Pub) – masculine noun 
  • Kostuum (Costume) – neuter noun 
  • Vastenavond (Shrove Tuesday) – masculine noun 
  • Verkleden (Dress up) – verb
  • Limburg (Limburg) – neuter proper noun 
  • Praalwagen (Float) – masculine noun 
  • Katholiek (Catholic) – adjective
  • Traditie (Tradition) – feminine noun 
  • Polonaise (Polonaise) – feminine noun 
  • Aswoensdag (Ash Wednesday) – masculine proper noun 
  • Feesten (Party) – verb
  • Kater (Hangover) – masculine noun
  • Brabant (Brabant) – neuter proper noun 

If you would like to practice your pronunciation, head over to our Carnival vocabulary list, where you’ll find recorded audio pronunciations of each word! 

Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed our article on Carnival in the Netherlands and that you’re craving even more cultural knowledge now! 

Do you celebrate Carnival in your country, or maybe a similar holiday? Tell us about it in the comments! 

If you can’t wait to feel the Netherland’s soil beneath your feet, but don’t yet feel confident in your language skills or cultural know-how, you’re in the right place. Here are some more blog posts from DutchPod101.com we think you’ll enjoy:

And this barely even scratches the surface of everything we have in store for our students! Create your free lifetime account today to gain access to hundreds of video and audio lessons, themed vocabulary lists, and our spaced repetition flashcards. It’s our aim to make learning Dutch fun, easy, and effective. 

Happy learning from the DutchPod101.com team!

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Driekoningen: The Dutch Epiphany Celebration

Nearly a quarter of the Dutch population identifies as Roman Catholic, making this the most prominent religion in the country. As such, it should come as no surprise that many Dutch people celebrate the Christian holiday Driekoningen (Epiphany), also known as Three Kings Day.

In this article, you’ll learn what Epiphany is all about and explore a variety of Dutch traditions for this holiday. Let’s get started!

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1. What is Epiphany?

Silhouette of the Three Wise Men

Epiphany is a religious feestdag (holiday) on which Christians commemorate the three wise men who followed a bright star to find Baby Jesus. This is not a public holiday in the Netherlands, though it is still an important holiday for Catholic and Protestant believers in the country. 

The story behind the Epiphany holiday is as follows:

Three wise men named Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar noticed an unusual star in the sky while they traveled. Amazed by the sight, the trio decided to follow after it and were led to the birthplace of Jesus. Seeing this as the openbaring (revelation) of their Savior being born, they offered Jesus gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 

Many Christians consider this a key event in the story and life of Jesus. During Christmas services several days before, many kerken (churches) read the story from the Bible or host a play outlining the story. 


2. When is Epiphany Celebrated?

Each year, most countries celebrate Epiphany on January 6. Some churches, however, hold their celebrations on the Sunday following this date. 

3. How is Epiphany Celebrated?

A Baby Being Christened

Despite Epiphany not being a public holiday, there are plenty of celebrations each year. 

One of the most common Three Kings Day traditions is for primary schools to host plays or skits at their local church. These plays will involve kinderen (children) dressing up in costumes to represent the different characters and figures in the story: the three wise men, Mary, Joseph, King Herod, Baby Jesus, and even the animals! 

There is an annual parade in Maastricht during Epiphany, so make sure to check it out if you get a chance. The main feature is several men fully costumed to look like koningen (kings), riding on horses and donkeys. They are accompanied by people dressed as shepherds, as well as Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus. Sometimes, children will march alongside the procession carrying lantaarns (lanterns).

In times past, Epiphany was associated with baptism and doop (christening). This tradition still carries over to some extent, with baptism water being consecrated on this day. This consecrated water is then used to bless people’s homes, after which the letters C+M+B are written with chalk on their doors. There are two schools of thought concerning what these letters mean: 

1. They could stand for the Latin phrase meaning, “Christ, bless this house.”

2. They could also represent the names of the three wise men (Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar).

Epiphany in the Netherlands is a favorite holiday among children, if for no other reason than all of the sweets and geld (money) they receive! Similar to Halloween, children dress up in costumes representing the three wise men and go from door to door while carrying lanterns. They sing songs at each door and are then rewarded with a variety of sweets and candies (and sometimes even money). The act of carrying lanterns originates from the belief that the lantern light wards off evil; the giving of treats is rooted in the pagan tradition of sacrificial meals. 

4. King’s Cake

As most good holidays are, Epiphany is also a time to enjoy some delicious food! 

While traditional holiday foods are common on this day, the most popular food item is King’s bread. This sweet treat is a round-shaped loaf of bread made with ingredients such as flour, sugar, yeast, milk, and almond paste. 

Inside the bread, one bakes three uncooked beans: two white beans and one dark. The person who receives the dark bean in their slice of bread is considered ‘king’ or ‘queen’ for that day. Some believe this also predicts luck for the coming year.

    → We have an entire lesson dedicated to Sweets and Desserts in the Netherlands. If you have a sweet tooth on you, make sure to check it out!

5. Essential Vocabulary for Epiphany

A Dutch Paper Lantern

To conclude, let’s review some of the Dutch words used in this article, plus a few more! 

  • Geld (Money)
    • noun, neutral
  • Snoep (Candy)
    • noun, neutral
  • Kind (Child)
    • noun, neutral
  • Kerk (Church)
    • noun, feminine
  • Feestdag (Holiday) 
    • noun, feminine
  • Bijbel (Bible) 
    • noun, feminine
  • Zingen (Sing) 
    • verb
  • Lied (Song) 
    • noun, neutral
  • Driekoningen (Epiphany) 
    • proper noun, masculine
  • Lantaarn (Lantern) 
    • noun, masculine
  • Koning (King) 
    • noun, masculine
  • Openbaring (Revelation) 
    • noun, feminine
  • Verkleden (Disguise) 
    • verb
  • Doop (Christening) 
    • noun, masculine

You can also visit our list of Dutch Vocabulary for Epiphany to hear the pronunciation of each word and practice along with the audio. 

Final Thoughts

While Epiphany is not as big a deal in the Netherlands as it is in many other European countries, there are still plenty of holiday traditions associated with this day. Do you celebrate Epiphany in your country? If so, how do your traditions compare to those in the Netherlands? 

We hope you enjoyed learning about this little slice of Dutch culture with us and that you feel inspired to continue learning. 

DutchPod101.com is the best place to learn about Dutch culture alongside the language. Most of our lessons combine grammar points, vocabulary lists, and cultural insights so that you get the most out of your study time. We provide lessons and other learning materials for learners at every level, so you can jump right in no matter where you are on your language learning journey.

Not sure where to start? How about reading more articles on popular Dutch holidays? We recommend the following:

Happy learning!

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Tweede Pinksterdag: Whit Monday in the Netherlands

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Did you know that only about twenty percent of people in the Netherlands identify as Christian? The majority of the population is atheist or doesn’t identify with a single religion.

However, Whit Monday (though a Christian holiday), is a day that both Christians and the non-religious can enjoy. What is the meaning of Whit Monday, and what kind of traditions take place in the Netherlands?

In this article, you’ll learn about the meaning of Pentecost Monday, explore how the Dutch celebrate it, and pick up some new vocabulary!

Let’s get started.

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1. What is Whit Monday in the Netherlands?

Whit Monday (the first Monday after Pentecost) is a Christian holiday that commemorates the giving of the Heilige Geest (“Holy Spirit” ) to the apostles. Because Christians consider this event to be the beginning of Christianity, the Whit Monday holiday is often called the “birthday of the Christian church.” The Catholic Church celebrates this holiday as the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church.

The name “Whit Monday” derives from Pentecost’s other name: Whit Sunday (or Whitsun). “Whit” is thought to refer to the white-colored garments that people wanting to be baptized would wear on Pentecost. However, some people speculate that it could also have roots with the Anglo-Saxon “wit,” referring to one’s understanding. After all, the Holy Spirit is thought to grant understanding and wisdom to Christians.

This holiday has varying status around the world. In the Netherlands, Whit Monday is a public holiday, meaning that most people have the day off from work and school.

    → See our vocabulary list on Religion to learn some useful Dutch words!

2. What Date is Whit Monday This Year?

Monday Shown on a Calendar

Whit Monday is a moveable holiday, meaning that its date changes each year according to the Christian calendar and the date of Pasen (“Easter” ). For your convenience, we’ve outlined this holiday’s date for the next ten years.

    2020: June 1
    2021: May 24
    2022: June 6
    2023: May 29
    2024: May 20
    2025: June 9
    2026: May 25
    2027: May 17
    2028: June 5
    2029: May 21

3. How is Whit Monday Celebrated?

A Music Festival

As we mentioned earlier, Whit Monday in the Netherlands is a public holiday, giving the majority of the population time off work and school. However, Pentecost Monday tends to have less of a religious connotation than Pentecost Sunday does, and many people use this holiday as an excuse to relax and engage in activities they enjoy.

In particular, the Dutch like doing outdoor activities with friends and family in the warmer weather. Popular activities include kamperen (“camping” ), zeilen (“sailing” ), and fietsen (“cycling” ). The Dutch love flowers, so if rainy weather strikes, many enjoy visiting a tuincentrum (“garden center” ). Of course, many people enjoy lighter activities around the home or simply taking a short nature walk.

Above all, this holiday is about having fun with those closest to you. It’s a time for family members to reconnect and for good friends to catch up.

4. Muziekfestival

In the Netherlands, Whit Monday is also the perfect time to attend a muziekfestival (“music festival” ). And attending one is no small matter! The Netherlands is renowned for its massive, elaborate, and exhilarating music festivals, which take place year-round.

Around the time of Whit Monday (late May to early June), there are two music festivals you won’t want to miss: The Holland Festival and Pinkpop. If you’re a music junkie or just looking for a new experience, the Netherlands is a great place to get your fill. 😉

Expatica has a full list of can’t-miss music festivals in the Netherlands—check it out!

5. Must-Know Whit Monday Vocabulary

A Group of People Cycling

Ready to review the most important words and phrases for Whit Monday? Here you go:

  • Maandag — “Monday” [n. masc]
  • Pasen — “Easter” [n. masc]
  • Heilige Geest — “Holy Spirit” [n. masc]
  • Kamperen — “Camping” [n.]
  • Muziekfestival — “Music festival” [n. neut]
  • Zeilen — “Sailing” [n. neut]
  • Fietsen — “Cycling” [n.]
  • Tuincentrum — “Garden center”
  • Vrije dag — “Holiday” [n. masc]
  • Tweede Pinksterdag — “Whit Monday”

If you want to hear the pronunciation of each word and phrase listed above, visit our Dutch Whit Monday vocabulary list!

Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed learning about Whit Monday in the Netherlands with us, and that you took away some valuable cultural information!

Do you celebrate Whit Monday in your country? If so, are traditions there similar or quite different from those in the Netherlands? We look forward to hearing your answers in the comments!

If you want to keep learning about the Netherlands and the Dutch language, DutchPod101.com has many free resources for you:

This only scratches the surface of everything that DutchPod101.com has to offer the aspiring Dutch-learner. To make the most of your study time, create your free lifetime account today; for access to exclusive content and lessons, upgrade to our Premium or Premium PLUS plans.

We want to help you reach your goals, and we’ll be here with you on every step of your language-learning journey!

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Pasan: Celebrating Easter Monday in the Netherlands

In the Netherlands, Easter Monday is a public holiday, celebrated just as much as—if not more than—Easter Sunday. The Dutch celebrate this major religious holiday with a range of fun and adventurous traditions, some of which you may be familiar with!

In this article, you’ll learn about Easter in the Netherlands, how it’s celebrated, and gain some new vocabulary while you’re at it. Let’s get started.

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1. What is Easter Monday?

On Easter, Christians celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus three days after his crucifixion. According to Christian belief, he died to take on the sins of the world and then resurrected to prove his triumph over death.

Easter Monday is the day following the actual Easter holiday. In the Netherlands, Easter Monday is a continued celebration of Easter Sunday, with lots of fun and unique traditions, beginning on Carnival Day, before Lent.

2. When is Easter Monday in the Netherlands?

A Calendar Marking Monday

The date of Easter Monday varies from year to year. For your convenience, here’s a list of this holiday’s date for the next ten years.

  • 2020: April 13
  • 2021: April 5
  • 2022: April 18
  • 2023: April 10
  • 2024: April 1
  • 2025: April 21
  • 2026: April 6
  • 2027: March 29
  • 2028: April 17
  • 2029: April 2

3. Easter Celebrations in the Netherlands

Painted Easter Eggs with Spring Flowers

Aside from the holiday’s religious meaning, family (familie) is a major aspect of how people in the Netherlands celebrate Easter. Children enjoy going on an Easter egg (paasei) hunt, indulging in sweet treats, and painting their own Easter eggs, much like they do in the United States. On Easter Monday, children also participate in other egg-related games; one such game is an egg-cracking competition, also called an eiertikken contest.

Entire families or groups of friends may also have a good time going to the beach (strand) or out shopping (winkelen) for Easter deals. Easter markets in the Netherlands often sell chocolates, Easter eggs, and paint sets for children to use for egg decorating.

Dutch Easter traditions always involve a large lunch (lunchen) with friends and family. Easter food in the Netherlands is typically prepared on Easter Sunday, and leftovers are eaten on Easter Monday. Some of the most common foods include various types of bread and pastries, smoked fish, and certain breakfast items. The Dutch often grace the Easter brunch table with decorated willow branches.

Other popular Easter traditions in the Netherlands include burning bonfires, playing sports, going to amusement parks, riding bikes—basically anything that involves enjoying the great outdoors in early spring!

4. From Holland to Italy

Did you know that the Easter flowers in St. Peter’s Square in Rome are provided by Holland?

Each year at the end of his Easter speech, the Pope gives Holland a little extra attention for this reason. He says, “Thank you for the flowers,” in broken Dutch!

5. Essential Easter Monday Vocabulary

A Sandy Beach

Ready to review some of the vocabulary words from this article? Here’s a list of the most important vocabulary for Easter Monday!

  • Maandag (n) — “Monday”
  • Strand (n) — “Beach”
  • Pasen (n) — “Easter”
  • Druk (adj) — “Crowded”
  • Festival (n) — “Festival”
  • Familie (n) — “Family”
  • Winkelen (n) — “Shopping”
  • Amsterdam (pr. n) — “Amsterdam”
  • Lunchen (n) — “Lunch”
  • Paasei (n) — “Easter egg”
  • Vrije (adj) — “Free”

To hear the pronunciation of each word, and to read them alongside relevant images, be sure to visit our Dutch Easter Monday vocabulary list!

Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed learning about Easter Monday in Dutch culture with us, and that you were able to take away some valuable information.

Do you celebrate Easter in your country? If so, are traditions there similar or pretty different from those in the Netherlands? We look forward to hearing from you in the comments!

If you want to learn even more about Dutch culture and holidays, DutchPod101.com has you covered:

Whatever your reasons for wanting to learn the Dutch language or immerse yourself in the culture, know that DutchPod101.com is the best way to expand your knowledge and improve your skills. With tons of fun and effective lessons for learners at every level, there’s something for everyone.

Create your free lifetime account today, and start learning with us. 🙂

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Sinterklaas Arrives: St. Nicholas’ Eve in the Netherlands

Each year on his birthday, Sinterklaas arrives in the Netherlands with his helpers and gives out candies and gifts to children who have been good. Saint Nicholas Eve, the night before St. Nicholas Day, is also a time of gift-giving and pleasant surprises among adults, in honor of the real saint this holiday is based on.

In this article, you’ll learn about how the Dutch celebrate Sinterklaas and about the traditional Sinterklaas stories.

Ready? Let’s get started!

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1. What is St. Nicholas’ Eve?

St. Nicholas Eve is the night before Sinterklaas and the Saint’s birthday. On this night, Saint Nicholas arrives in the Netherlands with presents. Although most Dutch people have grown up with this celebration, for most non-Dutch people this holy man is an entirely unfamiliar phenomenon. So let’s get to know him!

The Saint and his helpers arrive in the Netherlands from Spain around mid-November. From then on, children get to place their shoes next to the hearth before they go to bed so that Saint Nicholas’ helpers (known as Black Peters) can put a small gift in them (for example, a chocolate letter).

Black Peter is Sinterklaas’ helper. Many children love the “Peters” because they like to be mischievous; they dance comically and throw candies around for the children to pick up. They climb on rooftops and come down the chimney at night to put a little gift in the children’s waiting shoes. Of course, this is only for children who have been good all year. Children who’ve been bad are put in the sack and taken back to Spain.

In Holland, the name of Sinterklaas’ horse is Amerigo. We also know him as a grey. But in Flanders, the name of Sinterklaas’ horse is Bad-Weather-Today!

2. When is St. Nicholas’ Eve?

December 5

Each year, the Dutch celebrate St. Nicholas’ Eve on December 5.

3. Saint Nicholas Eve Celebrations

Chocolate Letters

All the children sing special Sinterklaas songs for Saint Nicholas and his “Peters” as they put their shoes out. They also watch the Sinterklaas News daily on national television to stay informed about their activities.

Adults also celebrate by exchanging gifts on behalf of the Saint during Sinterklaas parties. These are usually accompanied by a special little Sinterklaas-themed rhyming poem—a kind of limerick—and are wrapped similarly to how Christmas gifts in the United States are. Family members and friends often draw names to know who to prepare a surprise for. The surprise element here is far more important than the actual gift-giving!

The Dutch also do plenty of feasting and drink lots of hot chocolate in celebration of the life of the real St. Nicholas, who was known for giving gifts to children.

4. Where was Sinterklaas Born?

Do you know where the good Saint originally came from, according to history books?

About 1700 years ago, Sinterklaas was born in the town of Patara (present-day Turkey), and not in Spain as most Dutch people think. The location of the Saint’s headquarters is top-secret, of course.

If you’ve been bad this year and he takes you back with him in the sack, the question is whether you’ll end up in Spain or in Turkey!

5. Essential St. Nicholas’ Eve Vocabulary

Saint Nicholas

Here’s some Dutch vocabulary for you to memorize before St. Nicholas’ Eve!

  • Wortel — “Carrot”
  • Maan — “Moon”
  • Schoorsteen — “Chimney”
  • Pepernoot — “Spice nut”
  • Speculaas — “Ginger cookie”
  • Chocoladeletter — “Chocolate letter”
  • Zwarte Piet — “Black Pete”
  • Sinterklaas — “Saint Nicholas”
  • Pakje — “Present”
  • Amerigo — “Amerigo”
  • Mijter — “Mitre”
  • Vijf december — “December 5”
  • Roe — “Birch rod”
  • Sinterklaasfeest — “Saint Nicholas Day”

To hear each of these vocabulary words pronounced, and to read them alongside relevant images, check out our Dutch St. Nicholas’ Eve vocabulary list!

Final Thoughts

What are your thoughts on the Dutch Sinterklaas celebrations? I think we can all agree that a holiday involving gifts, singing, and hot chocolate is a good one. 😉

This holiday doesn’t even scratch the surface of Dutch culture and traditions, though. If you want to learn even more about the Netherlands and the Dutch people, or perhaps some more vocabulary for the winter, DutchPod101.com has plenty of fun and informative sources for you to check out:

At DutchPod101.com, learning Dutch doesn’t have to be a boring or overwhelming process. We do everything we can to make it as painless and fun as possible!

If you’re serious about mastering the Dutch language, create your free lifetime account today!

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Netherlands’ Pentecostal Celebration: Pentecost Sunday

What is Pentecost Sunday in the Netherlands?

Each year, the Netherlands observes the Pentecostal celebration to remember the Covenant between God and Israel, as well as the descension of the Holy Spirit onto Christians. The Day of Pentecost is celebrated both as a religious holiday and as an opportunity to relax and enjoy life.

In learning about the Dutch traditions for the Feast of Pentecost, you’ll see how Dutch culture intertwines with a holiday celebrated in various parts of the world. In turn, you’ll better absorb the Dutch way of life and the Netherlands’ culture, especially regarding religion. Understanding culture is one of the most essential steps in mastering any target language, and at DutchPod101.com, we hope to make this learning endeavor both fun and insightful!

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1. What is Pentecost?

So, what is the Day of Pentecost?

Many people in the Netherlands view Pentecost as just a day off. For the younger generation especially, this is all Pentecost means. But we all know there’s way more to the story of Pentecost.

It so happens that Pentecost derives from the Jewish Feast of Weeks, also known as Shavuot. Whereas Pentecost was formerly just a feast of thanks for bringing in a good harvest, Pentecost received a new meaning after the second century AD, namely as the day we commemorate the Covenant between God and Israel.

2. Day of Pentecost: When is Pentecost?

Enjoying the Spring

The date of Pentecost varies from year to year in correspondence with Easter. For your convenience, here’s a list of this holiday’s date for the next ten years.

  • 2019: June 9
  • 2020: May 31
  • 2021: May 23
  • 2022: June 5
  • 2023: May 28
  • 2024: May 19
  • 2025: June 8
  • 2026: May 24
  • 2027: May 16
  • 2028: June 4

3. Reading Practice: Pentecost Celebrations in the Netherlands

Holding a Religious Service

How do the Dutch celebrate Pentecost? Read the Dutch text below to find out (and find the English translation directly below it).

Pinksteren wordt gekenmerkt door veel openlucht muziekfestivals, vakanties en andere outdoor activiteiten.

Pinkpop is een jaarlijks driedaags popfestival in Landgraaf, dat in het weekeinde van Pinksteren plaatsvindt. Het festival duurt drie dagen en trekt per dag ongeveer 60.000 mensen. Pinkpop is één van de langstlopende jaarlijks terugkerende popfestivalen ter wereld. In principe wordt het evenement altijd met Pinksteren gehouden, maar valt Pinksteren vroeg in het jaar dan wordt het in een ander weekend gevierd dat in of dichter bij de maand juni ligt. Rond de maand juni zijn de meeste bands op tour door Europa, wegens de vele festivallen hier. Veel bezoekers dragen tijdens het festival het iconische roze Pinkpop-petje.

In Nederland maken veel mensen er een punt van om naar de kerk te gaan op Pinksterdag, zelfs als ze anders niet veel naar de kerk gaan. Het is ook een dag om te genieten van het buitenleven met fietsen of wandelen. Omdat deze feestdag in de lente valt, wordt het doorgaans door de mensen gebruikt om van het frisse lenteweer te genieten.

Er worden ook nog steeds enkele tradities beoefend doorheen heel Nederland. In sommige gebieden, kiezen de ongetrouwde mannen van een stad een Pinksterbruid, een ongehuwd meisje dat ook in die stad woont. De bewoners versieren haar met bloemen en plaatsen een kroon op haar hoofd. Dan leidt ze een processie door de stad waarmee een tijd aanbreekt waarop van oudsher koppels werden gevormd. Veel Nederlandse paren komen in deze tijd samen, dus het is een populaire tijd van het jaar voor verlovingen of het begin van een relatie.

Wist u dat de steden Amsterdam, Utrecht en Den Haag behoren tot de drie meest populaire steden om te gaan winkelen op een vrije dag? Naast het eindeloze aanbod van winkels, uitgaansgelegenheden, restaurants en musea staat Den Haag ook bekend om zijn stranden.

Whit Sunday is marked by a great deal of outdoor music festivals, vacations, and other outdoor activities.

Pinkpop is an annual, three-day pop music festival in Landgraaf that takes place during the Pentecost weekend. The festival runs for three days and attracts about 60,000 people a day. Pinkpop is one of the longest running annual pop festivals in the world. The event is always held during Pentecost in theory, but if Pentecost falls early in the year, it is celebrated on a different weekend where the dates are in or come closer to the month of June. Around the month of June, most bands are on tour throughout Europe, given the many festivals here. Many attendees wear the iconic pink Pinkpop hats during the festival.

In the Netherlands, many people make a point of attending church on Whit Sunday, even if they do not go to church most of the time. It is also a day to enjoy the great outdoors by riding bikes or walking. Since this holiday falls during the spring, it is typically marked by people enjoying the fresh, spring weather.

There are also some traditions still practiced throughout the Netherlands. In some areas, the single men of a town select a Pentecost bride, a single girl who also lives in the town. Townspeople decorate her with flowers and place a crown on the head. She leads a procession through the town, which then starts a time during which couples were traditionally formed. Many Dutch couples get together during this time, so it is a popular time of year for engagements or the beginning of a dating relationship.

Did you know that Amsterdam, Utrecht and the Hague are among the three most popular cities for going shopping on a day off? In addition to the endless supply of stores, nightlife, restaurants and museums, the Hague and Amsterdam are also known for their beaches.

4. What Does Pentecost Mean?

Do you know what the Greek word Pentecoste means in Dutch?

Pentecost is a cognate that derives from the Greek word Pentēkostē, which signifies the number fifty. This number refers to the day when Pentecost is celebrated.

5. Useful Vocabulary for Pentecost in the Netherlands

Gates of Heaven

Here’s some vocabulary you should know for Pentecost in the Netherlands!

  • Kermis — “Fair”
  • Geboorte — “Birth”
  • Muziek — “Music”
  • Doop — “Christening”
    • Christening is the giving of another (Christian) name to someone after baptism, usually a baby.
  • Hemel — “Heaven”
  • Katholieke Kerk — “Catholic Church”
  • Voorjaarsfeest — “Spring-celebration”
  • Pinkstergemeente — “Pentecostal congregation”
  • Heilige Geest — “Holy Spirit”
  • Pinksteren — “Pentecost”
  • Kerkdienst — “Religious service”

To hear each vocabulary word pronounced, check out our Dutch Pentecost vocabulary list. Here, each word is accompanied by an audio file of its pronunciation.

Conclusion

Does your country celebrate Pentecost too? If so, what kind of traditions and celebrations do you have? Let us know in the comments!

If you want to learn more about Dutch culture and the language, visit us at DutchPod101.com! It’s our goal to make your language-learning journey both fun and informative, and we provide this experience through practical learning tools and our whole-hearted support! Read more insightful blog posts like this one, study some of our free Dutch vocabulary lists, and chat with fellow students on our community forums.

Know that your hard work will soon pay off, and you’ll be speaking Dutch like a native before you know it! DutchPod101.com will be here with you on each step of your journey to mastery!

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Moederdag: Celebrate Mother’s Day in the Netherlands!

In the Netherlands, holidays are celebrated with a lot of heart; Moederdag may be celebrated with even more heart! Moederdag (“Mother’s Day”) in the Netherlands is special among Dutch holidays, as it gives children and grandchildren a day to rejoice in their mothers.

Another fun fact about family holidays: Netherlands first celebrated Mother’s Day before it celebrated Father’s Day! Do you know when each holiday was first celebrated here? We’ll give your curious mind the answer later. 😉

At DutchPod101.com, we hope to make learning about holidays in Netherlands both fun and informative! So let’s get started.

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1. What is Mother’s Day?

We celebrate Mother’s Day being mindful of the fact that our mothers assume the role of caregiver for the family throughout the entire year, and that they have always done so. For this reason, Mother’s Day is when their children (and grandchildren) show their appreciation, respect, and love for them.

Mother’s Day has been celebrated in the Netherlands for close to a century, each year seeing mothers cherished through gifts, quality time, kind words, and more!

2. Mother’s Day Date: When is Mother’s Day?

Mother's Day is on a Sunday

The date of Mother’s Day in the Netherlands varies each year, but is always the second Sunday in May. For your convenience, here’s a list of this holiday’s date for the next ten years.

  • 2019: May 12
  • 2020: May 10
  • 2021: May 9
  • 2022: May 8
  • 2023: May 14
  • 2024: May 12
  • 2025: May 11
  • 2026: May 10
  • 2027: May 9
  • 2028: May 14

3. Reading Practice: How do the Dutch Celebrate Moederdag?

Daughter Giving Mother Flowers

Read the Dutch text below to find out how the Dutch celebrate Mother’s Day (and find the English translation directly below it).

Op deze ene dag in het jaar word moederlief vrijgesteld van haar taken en op een voetstuk geplaatst. Kinderen leggen de moeder in de watten en begint de dag vaak met ontbijt op bed plus een cadeautje. Bij hele jonge kinderen wordt het cadeautje vaak een week van te voren al gemaakt op school. Op een latere leeftijd wordt het al gauw een bloemetje of zelfs een luchtje.

On this one day of the year, mommy dearest gets to take a break and is put on a pedestal. Children pamper the mother and often start the day with breakfast in bed, plus a gift. As for really young kids, they often make the gift at school a week in advance. When they’re older, they move on to giving a flower or even perfume spray.

4. Beginnings of Mother’s and Father’s Day

When do you think Mother’s Day and Father’s Day were first celebrated in the Netherlands?

Mother’s Day was celebrated in the Netherlands for over a decade before the first official Father’s Day ever was. Mother’s Day began around 1925 in the Netherlands, and Father’s Day didn’t start until 1937. So, Mother’s Day officially came earlier, so the fathers still have over a decade of catching up to do on presents!

Another tidbit of information for you:

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are not to be confused for Mama and Papa days. These days, it’s becoming more common for both parents to hold jobs and the children to spend the day in elementary school and a daycare center. To keep this to a minimum, we have days off for parental leave in the form of “Mama” and “Papa” days.

5. Useful Vocabulary for Mother’s Day in the Netherlands

A Present

Here’s some vocabulary you should know for Mother’s Day in the Netherlands!

  • Zondag — “Sunday”
  • Zoon — “Son”
  • Dochter — “Daughter”
  • Chocolade — “Chocolate
  • Diner — “Dinner”
  • Roos — “Rose”
  • Houden van — “Love”
  • Moeder — “Mother”
  • Cadeau — “Present”
  • Wenskaart — “Greeting card”
  • Moederdag — “Mother’s Day”
  • Cadeaubon — “Gift certificate”
  • Vieren — “Celebrate”
  • Ontbijt op bed — “Breakfast in bed”

To hear each of these vocabulary words pronounced, check out our Mother’s Day vocabulary list. Here, you’ll find each word accompanied by an audio file of its pronunciation.

Conclusion

What do you think of Mother’s Day celebrations in the Netherlands? In what ways do you see the country’s culture reflected in this popular holiday? Are celebrations similar in your own country? Let us know in the comments! We’d love to hear from you.

To learn more about Netherlands culture, visit us at DutchPod101.com. We offer insightful blog posts on a variety of topics about the Netherlands, as well as podcasts to keep you informed on the go! You can also check out our free vocabulary lists to expand your Dutch word bank, chat with fellow Dutch learners on our forums, and upgrade to Premium Plus to take advantage of our MyTeacher program! At DutchPod101.com, there’s something for every learner and every learner can master the language and culture of beautiful Netherlands!

In the meantime, Gelukkige Moederdag! (“Happy Mother’s Day!” in Dutch). Be sure to give your mother, grandmother, or motherly figure some Mother’s Day flowers or a meaningful Mother’s Day gift!

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How to Say Happy New Year in Dutch & New Year Wishes

Learn all the Dutch New Year wishes online, in your own time, on any device! Join DutchPod101 for a special Dutch New Year celebration!

How to Say Happy New Year in Dutch

Can you relate to the year passing something like this: “January, February, March – December!”? Many people do! Quantum physics teaches us that time is relative, and few experiences illustrate this principle as perfectly as when we reach the end of a year. To most of us, it feels like the old one has passed in the blink of an eye, while the new year lies ahead like a very long journey! However, New Year is also a time to celebrate beginnings, and to say goodbye to what has passed. This is true in every culture, no matter when New Year is celebrated.

So, how do you say Happy New Year in Dutch? Let a native teach you! At DutchPod101, you will learn how to correctly greet your friends over New Year, and wish them well with these Dutch New Year wishes!

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Table of Contents

  1. How to Celebrate New Year in Netherlands
  2. Must-Know Dutch Words & Phrases for the New Year!
  3. Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions in Dutch
  4. Inspirational New Year Quotes
  5. Inspirational Language Learning Quotes
  6. How To Say Happy New Year in 31 Languages
  7. How DutchPod101 Can Help You Learn Dutch

But let’s start with some vocabulary for Dutch New Year celebrations, very handy for conversations.

1. How to Celebrate New Year in Netherlands

Like in other countries, Dutch people greet New Year’s Day full of hope and goodwill. It may be because for most Dutch, this day offers the perfect excuse to eat an extra apple fritter, or [oliebol] in Dutch.

Let’s learn how Dutch people celebrate New Year’s Day [Nieuwjaarsdag] and New Year’s Eve [Oudejaarsavond]!

Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question?

Although apple fritters are not consumed everywhere in the world, they are well-known in many countries. Do you know what they are called in other countries?

If you don’t already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep reading.

When the year changes, Dutch people all over the nation clink glasses of champagne together, and wish each other the best for the New Year. If you’re in Holland for the occasion, you’ll undoubtedly hear people say [Gelukkig Nieuwjaar], meaning “Happy New Year.” This goes hand in hand with beautiful firework shows that can be seen throughout the whole country. Children are allowed to shoot off small fireworks, or [vuurwerk], starting at 10 in the morning on New Year’s Eve. The big fireworks are reserved for adults, of course, to start off the New Year with a bang.

On New Year’s Eve, or [Oudejaarsavond] in Dutch, friends will gather together to enjoy a drink and snacks, and to watch the New Year’s Eve shows on TV. The New Year’s Eve shows are presented by well-known cabaret performers, who prepare comedy sketches about events that happened during the year. Just before midnight, the champagne bottles are brought out and everyone watches the countdown on TV. When the New Year finally arrives, Dutch people yell out Happy New Year, or [Gelukkig Nieuwjaar].

On New Year’s Day, or [Nieuwjaarsdag], you’ll likely see many tired faces out and about. This is because many Dutch people don’t sleep on New Year’s Eve, partying late into the morning on New Year’s Day. But that doesn’t mean they stay in bed all day on the first day of the year. It’s actually the opposite. Along the coasts of Holland, thousands gather for the annual New Year’s polar bear plunge, or [nieuwjaarsduik]! The most popular location for this is called [Scheveningen] in The Hague. For many Dutch, this is the only true way to start the New Year afresh.

Now it’s time to answer our quiz question-

Do you know what other countries call apple fritter or [oliebol]? In English, it’s called “Dutch Doughnuts” or “Dutchies.”

Happy New Year!
Gelukkig Nieuwjaar!

2. Must-Know Dutch Words & Phrases for the New Year!

Dutch Words & Phrases for the New Year

1- Year

jaar

This is pretty self-explanatory. Most countries follow a Gregorian calendar, which has approximately 365 days in a year, while in some cultures, other year designations are also honored. Therefore, New Year’s day in Netherlands could fall on a different day than in your country. When do you celebrate New Year?

2- Midnight

middernacht

The point in time when a day ends and a new one starts. Many New Year celebrants prefer to stay awake till midnight, and greet the new annum as it breaks with fanfare and fireworks!

3- New Year’s Day

Nieuwjaarsdag

In most countries, the new year is celebrated for one whole day. On the Gregorian calendar, this falls on January 1st. On this day, different cultures engage in festive activities, like parties, parades, big meals with families and many more.

You can do it!

4- Party

feest

A party is most people’s favorite way to end the old year, and charge festively into the new one! We celebrate all we accomplished in the old year, and joyfully anticipate what lies ahead.

5- Dancing

dansen

Usually, when the clock strikes midnight and the New Year officially begins, people break out in dance! It is a jolly way to express a celebratory mood with good expectations for the year ahead. Also, perhaps, that the old year with its problems has finally passed! Dance parties are also a popular way to spend New Year’s Eve in many places.

6- Champagne

champagne

Originating in France, champagne is a bubbly, alcoholic drink that is often used to toast something or someone during celebrations.

7- Fireworks

vuurwerk

These are explosives that cause spectacular effects when ignited. They are popular for announcing the start of the new year with loud noises and colorful displays! In some countries, fireworks are set off to scare away evil spirits. In others, the use of fireworks is forbidden in urban areas due to their harmful effect on pets. Most animals’ hearing is much more sensitive than humans’, so this noisy display can be very frightful and traumatising to them.

Happy Near Year!

8- Countdown

aftellen

This countdown refers to New Year celebrants counting the seconds, usually backward, till midnight, when New Year starts – a great group activity that doesn’t scare animals, and involves a lot of joyful shouting when the clock strikes midnight!

9- New Year’s Holiday

nieuwjaarsdag

In many countries, New Year’s Day is a public holiday – to recuperate from the party the previous night, perhaps! Families also like to meet on this day to enjoy a meal and spend time together.

10- Confetti

confetti

In most Western countries, confetti is traditionally associated with weddings, but often it is used as a party decoration. Some prefer to throw it in the air at the strike of midnight on New Year’s Eve.

11- New Year’s Eve

oudejaarsavond

This is the evening before New Year breaks at midnight! Often, friends and family meet for a party or meal the evening before, sometimes engaging in year-end rituals. How are you planning to give your New Year greetings in 2018?

12- Toast

toost

A toast is a type of group-salutation that involves raising your glass to drink with others in honor of something or someone. A toast to the new year is definitely in order!

13- Resolution

voornemen

Those goals or intentions you hope to, but seldom keep in the new year! Many people consider the start of a new year to be the opportune time for making changes or plans. Resolutions are those intentions to change, or the plans. It’s best to keep your resolutions realistic so as not to disappoint yourself!

14- Parade

parade

New Year celebrations are a huge deal in some countries! Parades are held in the streets, often to celebratory music, with colorful costumes and lots of dancing. Parades are like marches, only less formal and way more fun. At DutchPod101, you can engage in forums with natives who can tell you what Dutch New Year celebrations are like!

3. Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions List

So, you learned the Dutch word for ‘resolution’. Fabulous! Resolutions are those goals and intentions that we hope to manifest in the year that lies ahead. The beginning of a new year serves as a good marker in time to formalise these. Some like to do it in writing, others only hold these resolutions in their hearts. Here are our Top 10 New Year’s resolutions at DutchPod101 – what are yours?

Learn these phrases and impress your Dutch friends with your vocabulary.

New Year's Resolutions

1- Read more

meer lezen

Reading is a fantastic skill that everyone can benefit from. You’re a business person? Apparently, successful business men and women read up to 60 books a year. This probably excludes fiction, so better scan your library or Amazon for the top business reads if you plan to follow in the footsteps of the successful! Otherwise, why not make it your resolution to read more Dutch in the new year? You will be surprised by how much this will improve your Dutch language skills!

2- Spend more time with family

meer tijd met de familie besteden

Former US President George Bush’s wife, Barbara Bush, was quoted as having said this: “At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict, or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a friend, a child, a parent.” This is very true! Relationships are often what gives life meaning, so this is a worthy resolution for any year.

3- Lose weight

afvallen

Hands up, how many of you made this new year’s resolution last year too…?! This is a notoriously difficult goal to keep, as it takes a lot of self discipline not to eat unhealthily. Good luck with this one, and avoid unhealthy fad diets!

4- Save money

Geld sparen.

Another common and difficult resolution! However, no one has ever been sorry when they saved towards reaching a goal. Make it your resolution to save money to upgrade your subscription to DutchPod101’s Premium PLUS option in the new year – it will be money well spent!

5- Quit smoking

stopen met roken

This is a resolution that you should definitely keep, or your body could punish you severely later! Smoking is a harmful habit with many hazardous effects on your health. Do everything in your power to make this resolution come true in the new year, as your health is your most precious asset.

6- Learn something new

iets nieuws leren

Science has proven that learning new skills can help keep brain diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s at bay! It can even slow down the progression of the disease. So, keep your brain healthy by learning to speak a new language, studying towards a qualification, learning how to sew, or how to play chess – no matter how old you are, the possibilities are infinite!

7- Drink less

minder drinken

This is another health resolution that is good to heed any time of the year. Excessive drinking is associated with many diseases, and its effect can be very detrimental to good relationships too. Alcohol is a poison and harmful for the body in large quantities!

8- Exercise regularly

Sport regelmatig.

This resolution goes hand-in-hand with ‘Lose weight’! An inactive body is an unhealthy and often overweight one, so give this resolution priority in the new year.

9- Eat healthy

Eet gezond.

If you stick with this resolution, you will lose weight and feel better in general. It is a very worthy goal to have!

10- Study Dutch with DutchPod101

Nederlands leren met Dutchpod101.com

Of course! You can only benefit from learning Dutch, especially with us! Learning how to speak Dutch can keep your brain healthy, it can widen your circle of friends, and improve your chances to land a dream job anywhere in the world. DutchPod101 makes it easy and enjoyable for you to stick to this resolution.

4. Inspirational New Year Quotes

Inspirational Quotes

Everyone knows that it is sometimes very hard to stick to resolutions, and not only over New Year. The reasons for this vary from person to person, but all of us need inspiration every now and then! A good way to remain motivated is to keep inspirational quotes near as reminders that it’s up to us to reach our goals.

Click here for quotes that will also work well in a card for a special Dutch new year greeting!

Make decorative notes of these in Dutch, and keep them close! Perhaps you could stick them above your bathroom mirror, or on your study’s wall. This way you not only get to read Dutch incidentally, but also remain inspired to reach your goals! Imagine feeling like giving up on a goal, but reading this quote when you go to the bathroom: “It does not matter how slowly you go, as long as you do not stop.” What a positive affirmation!

5. Inspirational Language Learning Quotes

Language Learning Quotes

Still undecided whether you should enroll with DutchPod101 to learn a new language? There’s no time like the present to decide! Let the following Language Learning Quotes inspire you with their wisdom.

Click here to read the most inspirational Language Learning Quotes!

As legendary President Nelson Mandela once said: “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.” So, learning how to say Happy New Year in Dutch could well be a way into someone special’s heart for you! Let this year be the one where you to learn how to say Happy New Year, and much more, in Dutch – it could open many and unexpected doors for you.

6. How To Say Happy New Year in 31 Languages

Here’s a lovely bonus for you! Why stop with Dutch – learn how to say Happy New Year in 31 other languages too! Watch this video and learn how to pronounce these New Year’s wishes like a native in under two minutes.

7. Why Enrolling with DutchPod101 Would Be the Perfect New Year’s Gift to Yourself!

If you are unsure how to celebrate the New Year, why not give yourself a huge gift, and enroll to learn Dutch! With more than 12 years of experience behind us, we know that DutchPod101 would be the perfect fit for you. There are so many reasons for this!

Learning Paths

  • Custom-tailored Learning Paths: Start learning Dutch at the level that you are. We have numerous Learning Pathways, and we tailor them just for you based on your goals and interests! What a boon!
  • Marked Progress and Fresh Learning Material Every Week: We make new lessons available every week, with an option to track your progress. Topics are culturally appropriate and useful, such as “Learning how to deliver negative answers politely to a business partner.” Our aim is to equip you with Dutch that makes sense!
  • Multiple Learning Tools: Learn in fun, easy ways with resources such 1,000+ video and audio lessons, flashcards, detailed PDF downloads, and mobile apps suitable for multiple devices!
  • Fast Track Learning Option: If you’re serious about fast-tracking your learning, Premium Plus would be the perfect way to go! Enjoy perks such as personalised lessons with ongoing guidance from your own, native-speaking teacher, and one-on-one learning on your mobile app! You will not be alone in your learning. Weekly assignments with non-stop feedback, answers and corrections will ensure speedy progress.
  • Fun and Easy: Keeping the lessons fun and easy-to-learn is our aim, so you will stay motivated by your progress!

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There’s no reason not to go big in 2018 by learning Dutch with DutchPod101. Just imagine how the world can open up for you!

How to Say ‘Merry Christmas’ in Dutch

How to Say Merry Christmas in Dutch

Do you know any ways to wish someone a ‘Merry Christmas’ in Dutch? DutchPod101 brings you easy-to-learn translations and the correct pronunciation of Dutch Christmas phrases!

Christmas is the annual commemorative festival of Christ’s birth in the Western Christian Church. It takes place on December 25th and is usually celebrated with much food and fanfare! However, not all cultures celebrate Christmas. In some countries, Christmas is not even a public holiday! However, many countries have adapted Christmas and its religious meaning to tally with their own beliefs, or simply in acknowledgment of the festival’s importance to other cultures. If you want to impress native Dutch speakers with culturally-appropriate Christmas phrases and vocabulary, DutchPod101 will teach you the most important ways to wish someone a ‘Merry Christmas’ in Dutch!

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Table of Contents

  1. How to Celebrate Christmas in the Netherlands
  2. Holiday Greetings and Wishes
  3. Must-Know Christmas Day Vocabulary
  4. Twelve Days of Christmas
  5. Top 10 Christmas Characters
  6. How DutchPod101 Can Help You

1. How to Celebrate Christmas in the Netherlands

Christmas Words in Dutch

Christmas season is the time of year when shopping streets are decorated with lights and pine branches, making a truly delightful family celebration!

Let’s talk about how Dutch people celebrate Christmas!

Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question?

Which flower takes center stage at Christmas time and even has its own Christmas carol?

If you don’t already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep reading.

Christmas Eve, or [kerstavond], in Dutch marks the beginning of the Christmas celebrations. Most Dutch people go to church on this evening, to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Midnight Mass, or [nachtmis], on Christmas Eve is the busiest church service of the year.

Unlike in the United States, Dutch people actually celebrate two Christmas days. The three major holidays in Holland, Christmas, Easter and Pentecost, all enjoy a second day of vacation following the main holiday. One of the reasons for this extra day is that it provides people with more than just a church trip. Many people use this day to go shopping, or to visit other family members or friends.

December 25 is the first Christmas day and the first day of the Christmas celebrations. The best and most beautiful Christmases in most people’s minds are those that bring a fresh load of snow, or [sneeuw], in Dutch. When new snow greets the dawn on Christmas morning, Dutch people call it “witte kerst” meaning “White Christmas”.

Dutch people usually celebrate Christmas day at home with their families. In the evening, everyone gets together and enjoys a wonderfully delicious Christmas dinner, or in Dutch [kerstdiner]. The traditional dishes eaten during the Christmas season are turkey and rabbit, which some people like to slather in cranberry sauce.

In many Dutch and Flemish communities, you’ll see people burning a Christmas tree, or [kerstboom]. Every year in the Netherlands, Dutch people hold an event called a “Christmas Tree Burning” at the beginning of the New Year. This tradition dates back a long, long time, to a time when people believed fire held a “cleansing” sort of power, making it a good way to start out a new year. However, beyond the traditional aspects, it’s also a way of keeping the streets clean of old Christmas trees that have been thrown out.

Now it’s time to answer our quiz question-

What flower takes center stage at Christmastime in Holland and even has its own Christmas carol?

The answer is the snowdrop, or in Dutch [sneeuwklokje]. Snowdrops are beautiful white flowers that bloom from January through April. The flower grows on a stem about 25 centimeters tall, with the long, slender flower petals bulging around the pistil to make the flower look a bit like a church bell.

2. Holiday Greetings and Wishes for the Holiday Season

Holiday Greetings and Wishes

1- Merry Christmas!

Vrolijk Kerstfeest!

Do you know how to say ‘Merry Christmas’ in Dutch? Learn here how to pronounce it perfectly! ‘Merry’ means to be joyful, to celebrate and generally be in good spirits. So, with this phrase you are wishing someone a joyful, celebratory remembrance of Christ’s birth!

2- Happy Kwanzaa!

Gelukkig Kwanzaa!

Surprise your African-American, or West African native friends with this phrase over the Christmas holidays! Kwanzaa is a seven-day, non-religious celebration, starting on Dec 26th each year. It has its roots in African American modern history, and many people celebrate both Kwanzaa and Christmas!

3- Have a happy New Year!

Een gelukkig nieuwjaar!

In countries where Christmas is not officially celebrated, but a Gregorian calendar is observed, this would be a friendly festive-season wish over New Year.

4- Happy Hanukkah!

Gelukkig Hanukkah!

Hanukkah is the beautiful Hebrew festival over November or December each year. It is also called the ‘Festival of Lights’ and is celebrated to commemorate the Jewish freedom of religion.

5- Have a great winter vacation!

Heb een geweldige wintervakantie!

This is a good phrase to keep handy if someone doesn’t observe any religious festival over the Christmas holidays! However, this will only be applicable in the Northern hemisphere, where it is winter over Christmas.

6- See you next year!

Zie je volgend jaar!

Going away on holiday over Christmas season, or saying goodbye to someone about to leave on vacation? This would be a good way to say goodbye to your friends and family.

7- Warm wishes!

Warme wensen!

An informal, friendly phrase to write in Dutch Christmas cards, especially for secular friends who prefer to observe Christmas celebrations without the religious symbolism. It conveys the warmth of friendship and friendly wishes associated with this time of year.

8- Happy holidays!

Fijne feestdagen!

If you forget how to say ‘Merry Christmas!’ in Dutch, this is a safe, generic phrase to use instead.

9- Enjoy the holidays!

Geniet van de vakantie!

After saying ‘Merry Christmas’ in Dutch, this would be a good phrase with which to wish Christmas holiday-goers well! It is also good to use for secular friends who don’t celebrate Christmas but take a holiday at this time of the year.

10- Best wishes for the New Year!

Beste wensen voor het nieuwe jaar!

This is another way of wishing someone well in the New Year if they observe a Gregorian calendar. New Year’s day would then fall on January 1st.

3. Must-Know Christmas Day Vocabulary

Must-Know Christmas Day Vocabulary

Christmas is associated with many traditions and religious symbols in multiple countries across the world. It originated centuries ago in the West with the birth of Christianity, and the celebrations are often embedded with rich cultural significance. So, by now you know how to say Merry Christmas in Dutch! Next, learn pertinent vocabulary and phrases pertaining to Christmas, as well as how to pronounce them correctly. At DutchPod101, we make sure you sound like a native speaker!

1- Christmas

Kerstmis

This is the Dutch word for ‘Christmas’. Most happy Christmas wishes in Dutch will include this word!

2- Snow

sneeuw

In most Northern-hemisphere countries, Christmas is synonymous with snow, and for Christmas, the snowman is often dressed as Santa Claus.

3- Snowflake

sneeuwvlok

Snowflakes collectively make up snow. A single snowflake is small, white, light like a feather and icy cold! When put under a microscope, the snowflake reveals itself to have the most beautiful, symmetrical patterns. These patterns have become popular Christmas decorations, especially in Western countries.

4- Snowman

sneeuwpop

As you guessed – a snowman is only possible to build if it is snowing! What a fun way to spend Christmas day outside.

5- Turkey

kalkoen

Roast turkey is the traditional main dish on thousands of lunch tables on Christmas day, mainly in Western countries. What is your favorite Christmas dish?

6- Wreath

kerstkrans

Another traditional Western decoration for Christmas, the wreath is an arrangement of flowers, leaves, or stems fastened in a ring. Many families like to hang a Christmas wreath outside on their houses’ front doors.

7- Reindeer

rendier

Reindeer are the animals commonly fabled to pull Santa Claus’ sled across the sky! Western Christmas folklore tells of Father Christmas or Santa Claus doing the rounds with his sled, carrying Christmas presents for children, and dropping them into houses through the chimney. But who is Santa Claus?

8- Santa Claus

Kerstman

Santa Claus is a legendary and jolly figure originating in the Western Christian culture. He is known by many names, but is traditionally depicted as a rotund man wearing a red costume with a pointy hat, and sporting a long, snow-white beard!

9- Elf

elf

An elf is a supernatural creature of folklore with pointy ears, a dainty, humanoid body and a capricious nature. Elves are said to help Santa Claus distribute presents to children over Christmas!

10- Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Rudolf het rendier met de rode neus

‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ is a Christmas song based on an American children’s story book with the same name. Rudolph is one of Santa’s reindeer. The song became more famous than the book, and can still be heard playing in many shopping malls over Christmas time across the globe!

11- North Pole

noordpool

The cold North Pole is where Santa Claus is reputed to live with his reindeer!

12- Sled

slee

A sled is a non-motorised land vehicle used to travel over snow in countries where it snows a lot, and is usually pulled by animals such as horses, dogs or reindeer. This one obviously refers to Santa’s sled! Another word for sled is sleigh or sledge.

13- Present

cadeau

Gift or present giving is synonymous with Christmas Eve and the greatest source of joy for children over this festive time! This tradition signifies that Christ’s birth was a gift to mankind, but not all people who hand out presents over Christmas observe the religious meaning.

14- Bell

bel

On Christmas Day, or Christmas Eve, many religious celebrants enjoy going to church for a special sermon and Christmas rituals. The start of the sermon is often announced with bells or a bell, if the church has one. For this reason, the sound of ringing bells is often associated with Christmas Day.

15- Chimney

schoorsteen

The chimney is the entrance Santa Claus uses to deliver children’s presents on Christmas Day, according to folklore! Wonder how the chubby man and his elves stay clean…?!

16- Fireplace

open haard

In most countries where it snows, Christmas is synonymous with a fire or burning embers in houses’ fireplaces. Families huddle around its warmth while opening Christmas presents. Also, this is where Santa Claus is reputed to pop out after his journey down the chimney!

17- Christmas Day

kerstdag

This is the official day of commemorative celebration of Christ’s birth, and falls each year on December 25.

18- Decoration

versiering

Decorations are the colourful trinkets and posters that make their appearance in shops and homes during the Christmas holiday season in many countries! They give the places a celebratory atmosphere in anticipation of the big Christmas celebration. Typical Christmas decorations include colorful photographs and posters, strings of lights, figurines of Santa Claus and the nativity scene, poinsettia flowers, snowflakes and many more.

19- Stocking

kous

According to legend, Santa Claus places children’s presents in a red stocking hanging over the fireplace. This has also become a popular decoration, signifying Christmas.

20- Holly

hulst

Holly is a shrub native to the UK, and parts of Europe, Africa and Asia. It is characterised by glossy, spiny-toothed leaves, small, whitish flowers, and red berries. Ironically, its significance for Christmas relates to Christ’s crucifixion and suffering rather than his birth. However, the leaves’ distinctive shape and image have become popular Christmas decorations.

21- Gingerbread house

peperkoekhuis

According to legend, the gingerbread house synonymous with Christmas is related to Christ’s birth place, Bethlehem. Bethlehem literally means ‘House of Bread’. Over centuries, it has become a popular treat over Christmas time in many non-religious households as well.

22- Candy cane

zuurstok

According to folklore, Christmas candy canes made their appearance first in Germany in the 16th century. A choir master gave children the candy canes to suck on in church in order to keep them quiet during the Christmas sermon! Apparently, the candy is shaped like a cane in remembrance of the shepherds who were the first to visit the baby Jesus. Today, like gingerbread houses, they are still a popular sweet over the festive season!

23- Mistletoe

maretak

Mistletoe is a parasitic plant that grows on certain trees. In the Middle Ages, it was believed that the mistletoe has magical powers, and could protect a household from evil if hung above a door during December. The belief didn’t last but the habit did, and the mistletoe is another popular Christmas decoration!

4. Twelve Days of Christmas

Twelve Days of Christmas

Wow, you’re doing extremely well! You know how to wish someone a Merry Christmas in Dutch, and you learned pertinent vocabulary too! The Twelve Days of Christmas is not very well known in modern times, so, you’re on your way to becoming an expert in Christmas traditions and rituals. Well done!

The Twelve Days of Christmas, also known as Twelvetide, is a traditional festive period of 12 days dedicated to celebrate the nativity of Christ. Christmas Day is, for many who observe Twelvetide, the first day of this period.

‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ is also a popular Christmas song about a series of gifts given on each day of Twelvetide. According to experts, these gifts were created as a coded reference to important symbols in the Christian church. Here is a list of those gifts mentioned in the song! Do you recognise them?

5. Top 10 Christmas Characters in American Culture

Top 10 Christmas Characters

This is fantastic, you know how to explain almost everything about Christmas in Dutch! However, do you know the most popular Christmas characters in American culture? Your knowledge will not be complete without this list.

6. DutchPod101 Is One Of The Best Online Language Schools Available!

Visit DutchPod101!

We don’t just say this – we can prove it! Geared to your personal needs and goals, we have several learning paths from which to choose. From Dutch for Absolute Beginners to Advanced Dutch, lessons are designed to meet you where you are, and increase your language abilities in fun, easy and interactive lessons! Mastering a new language has never been this easy or enjoyable.

We have over a decade of experience and research behind us, and it shows! With thousands of audio and video lessons, detailed PDF lessons and notes, as well as friendly, knowledgeable hosts, DutchPod101 is simply unbeatable when it comes to learning correct Dutch. Plenty of tools and resources are available when you study with us. New lessons are added every week so material remains fresh and relevant. You also have the option to upgrade and enjoy even more personalised guidance and services. This is a sure way to fast-track your learning!

So, this Christmas, why don’t you give yourself a present and enroll in DutchPod101? Or give an enrollment as a present to a loved one. It will be a gift with benefits for a whole lifetime, not just over Christmas!