Christmas In The Netherlands
Tuesday, 16th December 2014 -
Last updated on: Tuesday, 16th December 2014
The celebration of Christmas in the Netherlands.
The day after Sinterklaas’s departure ‘back to Spain’ on December 6th, most Dutch people go buy and/or set their Christmas tree.
It is deeply embedded in Dutch culture that it is ‘not done’ to set your tree before Sinterklaas has ‘left’, or find Christmas food and advertisement in stores.
It’s because many people feel that Christmas is slowly taking over, and are afraid that Sinterklaas, a typical Dutch holiday, will be forgotten someday.
There is some rivalry between the two, because it’s custom to give and receive gifts at both holidays, and some families choose to pick one because it becomes too expensive giving presents to each other otherwise.
One of the churches most busiest days of the year, is Christmas eve. Many people attend a mass, even if they’re not really religious. The church doesn’t play a really big part in most people’s daily lives here any more, but lots of people like to remember the ones they’ve lost, feel connected to others and feel thankful on this evening.
The Dutch celebrate 2 days of Christmas. 1e Kerstdag (Christmas day) and 2e Kerstdag (Boxing day).
The first day is traditionally spent with close family. In relationships and marriages Dutch people often go to one family on the first day, and spend the second day with the spouse’s family.
Some families like to prepare a multiple course Christmas dinner with Turkey or other luxury meat, wine and candle light, but most Dutchies take out the fondue set or Gourmet set!
Food can also be found in the Christmas tree. Not particularly candy canes, but ‘kerstkransjes’, wreaths made of meringue, fondant, cookie or chocolate, sometimes covered in sprinkles.
(For our assortment of Christmas products and kerstkransjes, click here)
Gourmetten (Table grill)
What is ‘gourmetten’?
Well, gourmetten means that you sit at a table with your fellow family members with a gourmet set in front of you (see pictures).
There are various kinds, little pans with a small individual burner or a large plate (electric) with also a little pan for each person.
There will be various kinds of finely cut meat present, sliced mushrooms, bell pepper/paprika, onions, and sometimes a salad. Some people also beat some eggs to make omelets in their little pans. You’ll also find various kinds of table sauces and baguettes with garlic butter on the table.
You’ll be grilling your own little bites of meat and vegetables, and chat with your table mates for over an hour. After this, it is likely to feel very full, and dessert will in most cases be presented a while after finishing dinner. The Dutch have of course invented ‘going Dutch’, so it is very likely that when you invite people for a nice evening of gourmetten, that everyone will bring something to put on the table. It is seen as very polite to ask your hosts if you should bring something, and your hosts will almost always say ‘no’. (But still appreciate it if you still bring something in most cases! ;-) )
With the start of December, many Dutch people will feel charitable. Charity organisations use December to make beautiful tv commercials and hope to get lots of donations this way.
In the last couple of years, more and more people have become dependent on food banks, so this year a large chain of grocery stores, Jumbo, has made a beautiful tv commercial to raise money for a Christmas meal for those who don’t have the money to pay for one themselves.
At the cash register you can buy a meal coupon to, for instance, buy one person an entrée or main course for 1,50 or 4,50 (euros). It appears to be a very successful idea so far, so that’s really great!
View Jumbo’s Christmas commercial here:
Tweede kerstdag or Boxing day, and the ‘woonboulevard’.
Although many people visit the ‘second family’ on boxing day, there are also lots of people who feel stuffed and bored on the second day of Christmas. All shops are closed, except for IKEA and local ‘woonboulevards’.
(A woonboulevard is a place with hardware stores and stores that sell furniture)
This means that these stores are flooded with people on ‘Tweede Kerstdag’, like they won’t ever open again. The stores often have special offers which only apply on this day, and even the Dutch themselves make fun of this typical Dutch behavior on ‘Tweede Kerstdag’.
Yummy Dutch wishes you a MERRY CHRISTMAS!
(Photo courtesy of: z24.nl, tubantia.nl, catering-bestellen.nl, kiwienzo.nl)
Tags: christmas, kerstmis, kerst, kerstfeest, gourmetten, charity, jumbo, albert heijn, kerk, church, gourmet, raclette, steengrill, grillen, eten, dinner, food, kerstkrans, woonboulevard, ikea, boxing day, vlees, meat, vegetables, saus, sauces, family, familie