2012 Dutch Holidays
New Year's Day (Nieuwjaar): Sunday 1 January 2012
* Good Friday: Friday 6 April 2012
Easter Sunday (Pasen): Sunday 8 April 2012
Easter Monday (Pasen): Monday 9 April 2012
Queen's Day (Koninginnedag): Monday 30 April 2012
* National Remembrance Day (Dodenherdenking): Friday 4 May 2012
* Liberation Day (Bevrijdingsdag) [Official holiday every 5 years]: Saturday 5 May 2012
Ascension (Hemelvaart): Thursday 17 May 2012
Whitsun (Pinksteren): Sunday 27 May-Monday 28 May 2012
* Sinterklaas: Wednesday 5 December 2012
Christmas Day (eerste Kerstdag): Tuesday 25 December 2012
Boxing Day (tweede Kerstdag): Wednesday, 26 December 2012
* Not official Holidays
Building industry holiday - Bouwvakvakantie
This is a period during the summer when all construction workers have their holiday. When exactly this holiday begins, depends on the area where you live. The building industry holiday was established to make it easier for construction companies to deal with the various holiday preferences of their employees and to avoid delays in delivering the job on time. Not only construction companies follow this rule, many other companies are also closed in this period for 2 or even three weeks. The building industry holiday falls somewhere in the middle of the school holidays in the respective areas North, centre and South of the Netherlands.
New Year’s Day/New Year’s Eve – Nieuwjaar/ Oud en Nieuw. The 31st of December is called oudejaarsdag (Old Year’s Day). The Dutch celebrate this day in the same way as many other countries do. At 12 o’clock midnight, they toast to the New Year, exchange good wishes, and kiss each other 3 times on the cheeks. Then they light fireworks in the street, and celebrate into the small hours of the night.
Easter is celebrated in March or April, at the end of Lent. According to Christian scripture, Jesus was resurrected from the dead on the third day from his crucifixion. Christians celebrate this resurrection on Easter Day or Easter Sunday, two days after Good Friday (Goede Vrijdag) and three days after Maundy Thursday (Witte Donderdag). Most companies are closed on Good Friday, but the commercial companies are open, so you can go to the supermarket or shopping on this day. Easter is celebrated in two days: Easter Sunday (eerste Paasdag) and Easter Monday (tweede Paasdag). It is a tradition in the Netherlands to hide chocolate eggs (in the old days they were real eggs) or other chocolate Easter goodies in the house or garden and let the children search them. In some schools and companies, not Easter but the end of the Ramadan (Eid ul-Fitr) is a holiday. You will find more information about this at the end of this chapter.
Queen’s Day – Koninginnedag (April 30)
Originally, Queen’s Day was celebrated on the birthday of the reigning Queen. Nowadays, it is celebrated on the birthday of the late Queen Mother Juliana. If April 30 is on a Sunday, Queen’s Day is celebrated on April 29.
Remembrance Day – Dodenherdenking (May 4)
Although it is not a public holiday, May 4 is a very important day in the Netherlands. The Dutch commemorate on this day all armed forces and civilians of the Kingdom of the Netherland who have died in war situations and military conflicts since the outbreak of the Second World War. At 8.00 p.m., the entire country observes two minutes of silence to commemorate the people who died for our country. Public transport and other traffic stop and even radio and television stations stop broadcasting.
Liberation day – Bevrijdingsdag (May 5)
On May 5, the Dutch celebrate the capitulation of the German forces on May 5, 1945. This day is celebrated every year, but since 2001 it has been celebrated officially as a public holiday every 5 years. The South of the Netherlands was liberated earlier that year, on September 18, 1944. This day is still celebrated in Eindhoven with a parade starting on the 18 September Square. A very popular event is the so-called Lichtjesroute through the Eindhoven streets along which various light ornaments have been mounted. The ornaments depict various objects and animals, and also some World War II-themed imagery. You can find more information about this route under ‘Children’s events’.
Ascension Day – Hemelvaartsdag
Ascension Day marks the day when Jesus Christ ascended up into heaven, 40 days after his resurrection from the dead, which was on Easter Sunday. Ascension Day is a national holiday celebrated on Thursday. For most people, this means an extra long weekend as most companies are closed on Thursday.
Pentecost – Pinksteren
Pentecost commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus. It is celebrated seven weeks after Easter Sunday. In the Netherlands, Pentecost is a public holiday. The Dutch celebrate two Pentecost days: Pentecost Sunday (eerste Pinksterdag) and Pentecost Monday (tweede Pinksterdag).
Saint Nicholas’ Eve – Sinterklaas
A predecessor of Santa Claus, Sinterklaas gives presents to the children. His birthday is December 6, but because children are mostly given presents the evening before, it is now celebrated on December 5. Sometimes children get the morning of December 6 off to play with their new toys and to rest from the late evening before.
Christmas – Kerstmis
Like most Christian countries around the world, the Netherlands celebrate Christmas on December 25 (eerste Kerstdag) and 26 (tweede Kerstdag). Both days are public holidays. Families come together, have a nice meal, and enjoy family quality time. Because the Dutch celebrate Sinterklaas on December 5 with presents, they normally do not give presents with Christmas. Families with older children and grown-ups however, may prefer to exchange presents with Christmas instead of Sinterklaas. As a rule, Christmas Eve is a normal working day in the Netherlands. People might go home an hour early to prepare for Christmas. For some Dutch people, Christmas starts after midnight mass. They have a very late supper after the ceremony, and go to bed. The majority of the people, however, celebrate Christmas at home with family and friends.
The government also recognises the period from Christmas until January 1 as an 'equivalent' to holidays for the purpose of filings/payments to or by the government; if a term ends on one of the two days, the term is extended.
If Christmas Day or Boxing Day falls on a Saturday or Sunday, there is no additional weekday (Monday to Friday) given in exchange.
Because present-giving and several other aspects of the holiday involve heightened economic activity among both Christians and non-Christians, Christmas has become a major event for many retailers.
Eid ul-Fitr - Suikerfeest
Recently, there has been some debate about whether or not Eid ul-Fitr is a Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, should be considered a public holiday. This proposal was met with heavy opposition from some political parties, most importantly the PVV (Partij voor de Vrijheid, Party for Freedom, a right-wing political party founded by Geert Wilders) and SGP (Staatkundig Gereformeerde Partij, Political Reformed Party, an orthodox Protestant Dutch political party), although many other parties had no problems with it. Those opposed to the proposal claim that there are enough national holidays as it is. For now, Eid is not an official national holiday, but it usually justifies a day off for Islamic employees.
For all the holidays and celebrations around the world check the Earth Calendar.
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