Every country comes with its own specific cultural celebrations and Holland makes no exception and is, from my experience, quite a festive nation!
If you think you’re too old to celebrate your birthday or have long given up the idea of drawing attention to it, you might need to review your ways as the Dutch don’t seem to ever grow out of it…if you are working you will probably be expected to bring cakes on your special day to share with your colleagues, unless the company has a policy whereby all the birthdays of the same month get celebrated on the same day…to avoid excessive daily intakes of cakes and biscuits…in any case I strongly recommend that you enquire what your company does about birthdays…
Kids’ birthdays are logically therefore also a big event and there are lots of fun ways in around and out of town which can host and even organise a great party for your little or big ones. Personally I have nothing against the traditional homemade chocolate cake decorated with smarties and a few friends that come to play at home on the day, but I have found this inherited French way hard to follow here as the trend is that the whole class or all the girls/or boys are invited to a birthday party so when your turn to celebrate comes, you usually have lots of invitations to return…
The Dutch have a very nice way of wishing people a Happy birthday…they congratulate the parents…which after all is well-deserved! So on your child’s birthday, you will most probably hear “Gefeliciteerd” - the Dutch for congratulations!
Soon to come on this website, ideas for indoors and outdoors Birthday venues.
“Koninginnedag” previously queen’s but now king’s Day – is widely celebrated throughout the Netherlands and is an official bank holiday when it doesn’t fall on a Saturday! Markets, games and activities for children, music festivals, second hand flea markets etc… are organised throughout the country and hosted by all towns and cities.
Regardless of whether you support Monarchy or not you will seriously look out of place if you don’t wear orange on that day when all the country celebrates the King’s…birthday… (you did get warned about birthday celebrations!). A few weeks before the date, orange starts filling up shop shelves in all sorts of shapes, glasses, socks, hats, make up etc… even cakes!
I hope you’ll be in the country to enjoy what the Dutch themselves call ‘Oranjegekte’ (orange fever)! Watch out, it might be contagious!
Find out more about King’s day in Hilversum nearer to the time on
www.hilversum.nl under “oranjeprogramma”
Meanwhile, enjoy reading more about this fun uni-coloured day on:
The Dutch like to give their children a healthy sense of achievement and so, from an early age! With the “Avondvierdaagse, you can be sure that those who usually chant “are we there yet?” on your Sunday family walks…will have their yearly Sunday walking intake covered in just 4 days!
“Avondvierdaagse” roughly translates as the “Four Evening Walk” and is a Dutch spring tradition which takes places all throughout the Netherlands. Each town hosts an avondvierdaagse for all primary school children generally from group 3 onwards. This happens around the first week of June and each school encourages as many children as possible to take part. Every evening they do a 5-7 km walk with their parents, teachers siblings and friends and follow a set route through the town, the woods and the countryside. On the last evening, they usually walk 10 km and the streets fill up with people coming to cheer and support them, handing out flowers and candies. This final walk turns into a parade as the children are accompanied by bands.
This event provides children with a chance to feel part of the bigger community and gives them a sense of achievement as it can be quite challenging for the little (and even not so little…) legs! Children who complete the walk get officially rewarded by a medal at the end…and even the accompanying grown-ups can owe up to one!
Dutch Public Holidays 2015
Jan 1 Thursday New Year's Day
Apr 5 Sunday Easter Day
Apr 6 Monday Easter Monday
Apr 27 Monday King's Birthday
May 5 Tuesday Liberation Day
May 14 Thursday Ascension Day
May 24 Sunday Whit Sunday
May 25 Monday Whit Monday
Dec 6 Sunday St Nicholas (no holiday)
Dec 25 Friday Christmas Day
Dec 26 Saturday Second Day of Christmas