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Mies: Welcome back to DutchPod101.com. I’m Mies, and this is All About Lesson 9, – Top 5 Important Dates During the Dutch Calendar Year !
Jacob: Ik heet Jacob
Mies: There is a big bonus to making Dutch your adopted culture, and that is that you get some great holidays!
Jacob: Yes, there are some exciting celebrations in the Netherlands.
Mies: Yes, and now you can adopt them as your own too!
Jacob: So today we are going to learn about five holidays that are near and dear to the hearts of Dutch people.
Mies: I think the first and by far the most widely celebrated holiday in the Netherlands is “Koninginnedag” Queensday.
Jacob: Yes, Queensday on April 30th – the whole country parties that day
Mies: There are open-air concerts, parades…
Jacob: …Children play all kinds of games, and there are big flea markets.
Mies: Yes, and all of that to celebrate the birthday of the queen.
Jacob: I heard it’s not really her birthday that day.
Mies: That is correct, The current queen’s birthday is January 31st. But the Dutch people decided it’s too cold that time of year for outdoor parties so we celebrate it on April 30Th, which is the birthday of the former Queen.
Jacob: Right, but that is kind of funny. Isn’t it?
Mies: Recently April 29Th turned into a big party night too. It’s called Queens Night. Many young people celebrate in the streets and squares (and in Amsterdam, the canals as well) throughout the night.
Jacob: Yeah. The Dutch really know how to celebrate the Queen’s birthday well. It's a lot of fun – you should join.
Mies: I hear Amsterdam alone welcomes about 2 million party-going visitors each Queensday.
Jacob: Yes, The whole country will be colored orange that day.
Mies: That’s right: the national color is orange, right?
Jacob: Yeah you can’t miss this color during Queensday. You will see it everywhere. It will be the same at big football matches.
Mies: Yeah I have seen that with the World Cup having a whole stadium full of “orange” Dutchmen. It looks great!
Jacob: Yeah, it’s great, it’s not only the people who are in orange but whole streets are decorated in orange, I’ve even seen complete houses that were painted orange. And in the shops you can buy all kinds of orange food,.
Mies: Why the color orange? Why not purple or red or yellow?
Jacob: It’s because of our royal family – it’s their color. The lineage of the current dynasty, the House of Oranje-Nassau, dates back to Willem van Oranje (William of Orange).
Mies: Right, what's next: more colorful holidays?
Jacob: Oh yes, December 5Th is a colorful holiday for us. Well actually it isn’t really a holiday because we don’t get a day off work, even though we should.
Mies: I’m lost, what holiday that isn’t really a holiday are you talking about?
Jacob: Sinterklaas feest, or “Saint Nicholas party”
Mies: Isn’t he supposed to come around on Christmas Day ?
Jacob: No not our Dutch Saint, he is on a different schedule.
Mies: So tell me more about this Saint Nicolas of yours.
Jacob: Well “sSnterklaas” lives in Spain, and every year in mid November he gets on a boat together with his white horse and “Zwarte Pieten,” (Black Petes) and comes to the Netherlands.
Mies: very interesting, no reindeer but a white horse.
Jacob: Yeah, to make sure you get a present you have to put a carrot in your shoe for Sinterklaas’s horse.
Mies: Wait…wait what are you talking about now, carrots in your shoes?
Jacob: Yeah, children put their shoes at the front door or under the chimney at night before they go to bed. Then Sinterklaas with his white horse and Black Petes will come by and put a present in your shoe.
Mies: This Sinterklaas feest is full of mysteries. What are these Black Petes you are talking about?
Jacob: Yeah, Sinterklaas has helpers, to help him wrap the presents, write poems and deliver them to the children by climbing down the chimney. Sinterklaas’s helpers are very flexible, they can do all kinds of acrobatic stunts. They are very cool.
Mies.: And I heard you say something about poems too.
Jacob: Yeah, that’s right. The poems are especially written for the person who receives the present. It’s about the person and they are often very funny.
Mies: So what does this Sinterklaas of yours look like?
Jacob: Well you know that guy who comes around at Christmas? He is short and fat, whereas our Sinterklaas is long and slim. He does also have a long white beard though and he is pretty old, not sure exactly how old.
Mies: Well I must admit he sounds pretty cool this Sinterklaas.
Jacob: He sure is.
Mies: So what other, let’s say real, holidays do you have?
Jacob: Hahaha yeah. Well I can’t help it – we don’t get a day off for Sinterklaas feest, and I mean we totally should. But well anyway, let’s talk about Nieuw Year.
Mies: Yeah that is a big one all over the world but celebrated differently wherever you are. What is it like in the Netherlands?
Jacob: Well I have to say it's a pretty noisy one. On New Year’s Eve we get together with our friends and family, and eat and drink together.
Mies: Are you eating and drinking anything special?
Jacob: We sure are. We eat “oliebollen” fried dough balls and drink Champagne at midnight.
Mies: So we know what you eat and drink, but what do you do around midnight?
Jacob: well just before midnight we turn on the TV to see the countdown. Once it is midnight we open the champagne and say “Gelukkig Nieuwjaar” (Happy New Year), and we kiss each other, and after that we go outside to light the fireworks.
Mies: What kind of fireworks?
Jacob: Well some of them are nice and colorful but most of them are just very very noisy.
Mies: You said just before midnight you would turn on the TV. I seem to remember something about a comedian on TV.
Jacob: Yeah that’s right – many people watch the show of a comedian that is especially made for New Years Eve.
Mies: How about New Year’s Day, anything on the program?
Jacob: There sure is…sleeping!
Mies: Haha…I guess you need it after drinking all that Champagne and eating those oliebollen.
Jacob: Well there are some people who decide to be active on New Year’s Day. I think they are a bit crazy because what they do is take a dive in the sea at Scheveningen.
Mies: Wow, that must be freezing.
Jacob: Yes it definitely is, though every year thousands of people join in. After their dive they get a hot cup of soup.
Mies: Hmm not sure if I will be up for that…how about other holidays?
Jacob: Well of course there is Christmas.
Mies: December 25th
Jacob: And December 26th. That’s right, in the Netherlands we decided to have two Christmas days. Very convenient as you can visit your parents one day and your partner’s parents the other day.
Mies: Smart thinking.
Jacob: So yeah, for Christmas we decorate our house with a real Christmas tree, Christmas lights, candles and all kinds of other decorations.
Mies: How about Santa?
Jacob: No Santa. He already came by on December 5th remember? No, in the Netherlands it’s all about the ambience. Sitting with your family around the open fire, playing games, and of course eating the food.
Mies: Turkey?
Jacob: Not necessarily. It basically can be anything but it will be nice, tasty salads, soups, meat dishes etc.
Mies: So we had Queensday, December 5th, New Year’s Day, and Christmas so far. .What is the 5th holiday?
Jacob: Bevrijdingsdag, Liberation Day on May 5th
Mies: Does this celebrate the end of World War II?
Jacob: Yes indeed, on May 4th the Dutch hold the Remembrance of the dead for the people who fought and died during World War II, and in wars in general. Then on May 5th, the liberation is celebrated and festivals are held at most places in the Netherlands.
Mies: Yeah I remember going to a liberation concert once in Haarlem.
Jacob: Yeah, there often are big free open-air concerts that day.
Mies: When I was a student I used to volunteer at these concerts.
Jacob: Great!. This was just a sampling of all the holidays and festivals the Netherlands has in store for you.
Mies: Good on you for starting your Dutch journey with us here at DutchPod101.com, where you will get double the holidays for one low price!
Jacob: Dag!
Mies: Bye!