Christmas and New Year's Eve: this is how it is celebrated
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December is a holiday month in the Netherlands. The holidays of Christmas and New Year's Eve are celebrated then. Most people in the Netherlands celebrate these holidays with family and friends. You can read in this article about how these holidays are celebrated. You can also read what you can notice about the holidays.
December 24: Christmas Eve
Christmas Eve is not an official holiday in the Netherlands. Nevertheless, special church services take place on Christmas Eve. This is because Dutch Christians believe that Jesus was born on the night of 24-25 December. So those who want to can go to church. If you want to go to church, check out the website of a church near you to see when a service is being held.
On Christmas Eve, most stores close earlier than usual. Most stores close as early as 19:00 on 24 December. So do your shopping on time that day.
December 25 and 26: Christmas Day and Boxing Day
On Christmas Day and Boxing Day, Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Therefore, many people go to church during Christmas. But many Dutch people who are not Christian also celebrate Christmas. Almost all Dutch people have a decorated Christmas tree in their house during Christmas. Also, most people eat with family or friends. This can be a Christmas breakfast or an extensive dinner. Sometimes people give presents to each other at Christmas.
At Christmas, most people do not have to work. Ask your employer how this is arranged at your place of work.
December 31 and January 1: New Year's Eve
In the Netherlands, it is tradition to celebrate the turn of the year on 31 December. In the Netherlands, we call this turn of the year New Year's Eve. Most Dutch people celebrate this party with friends and family. This can be at someone's home. Or a party in the city or village where you live. People often play games with each other in the evening. They often eat typical Dutch snacks like "oliebollen" and "appelflappen".
Just before the turn of the year, people often count down to the New Year. You can see this on television. On television there is a big clock counting down to midnight. At exactly 00:00, people wish each other a Happy New Year and toast with champagne. Then they often go outside to set off fireworks. It is customary to wish other people outside a Happy New Year.
At the turn of the year, public transportation runs less frequently. Also, buses, trains, streetcars and subways may run at different times. Make sure you are aware of the correct timetable. This is indicated on the website of the bus, train, streetcar or subway.
Other opening hours of stores
During the holidays, stores usually have different opening hours than normal. On Christmas Eve (December 24), most stores close earlier. On Christmas Day and Boxing Day (December 25 and 26), many stores are closed. However, some supermarkets and stores are open.
On New Year's Eve (December 31) many stores close earlier than usual, and on New Year's Day (January 1) many stores are closed. Keep this in mind when doing your shopping. Check with a store in your area for opening hours to make sure you can do your shopping.