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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in the Netherlands Series at DutchPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Dutch holidays and observances. I’m Eric, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 2. Christmas. In Dutch, this is [Kerstmis]
Christmas season is the time of year when shopping streets are decorated with lights and pine branches, making a truly delightful family celebration!
In this lesson, we’ll 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 Christmastime and even has its own Christmas carol?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
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.
How did you like this lesson? Did you learn something interesting?
How do you celebrate Christmas in your country?
Leave us your comments on DutchPod101.com, and we'll see you in the next lesson.

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How do you celebrate Christmas in your country?