Holidays and Festivals
In Holland there are a multitude of official and traditional holidays that the Dutch enjoy celebrating. On the first of January, some Dutch people greet the New Year by taking an invigorating plunge into cold water, for instance the traditional New Year’s Day ´Dip in the Sea´ on the beach in Scheveningen.
In February, Carnival is celebrated in many regions, with traditional costumed parades and partying. In addition, the American tradition of Valentine’s Day is gaining in popularity each year.
In Holland, hunting for Easter eggs on Easter Day is just as strongly anchored in tradition as it is in Germany. Throughout the Easter weekend many cities also traditionally celebrate the first outdoor festivals, including pop music festivals like the one called Paaspop (´EasterPop`) in Haarlem.
The biggest celebration of the year takes place every year on April 27. This is ´King´s Day´ in Holland, and throughout the country festivities take place, with everything and everyone decked out in the colour orange – the colour of the royal family, the ‘House of Orange’. On the evening before King’s Day, a special celebration called ‘King’s Night’ takes place in The Hague – a big festival held in the middle of the city, with free entry for everyone.
On the fourth of May, the Day of Remembrance, special ceremonies are held in many cities and towns in Holland, to remember and honor both the civilians and the military personnel who have died as victims of wars and military peace-keeping missions. On May 5, Liberation Day is celebrated with concerts and festivals, such as Bevrijdingspop (´Liberation Pop´) in Haarlem.
The festival called Vlaggetjesdag (‘Flag Dag´), usually held around the first weeks of June, centers on the arrival of the first ´new herring´ catch in fishing ports. This is the official opening of the herring season and attracts a lot of visitors, especially in Scheveningen.
The summer recess of government workers in the Hague ends on the third Tuesday in September. On that day, the so-called Prinsjesdag (Princes’ Day, also called ‘Budget Day’), the ruling monarch holds a ‘Speech from the Throne’ to publicly announce the political guidelines and budget for the coming year. On this day as well, the Royal Family rides through The Hague in a parade in the horse-drawn ‘Golden Coach’.
The feast of St. Nicolas, who is called Sinterklaas in Holland, is celebrated on December 5. In Holland, the Sinterklaas celebration is much more important than Christmas – especially for children – as there is no special ´Holy Night´ or ´Christmas Eve´ observance in Holland. The Dutch celebrate the end of the year with Oudejaarsavond – the last evening of the ´Old Year´, with champagne, noisemakers and lots of fireworks.
Holland has staggered holidays and therefore not everyone has holidays at the same time. There are a couple of weeks’ difference. The staggered holidays were introduced to reduce extremely busy situations and traffic jams.
Below is an overview of school holidays and public holidays in Holland in 2014.
2016 Public Holidays
|New Year’s Day||January 1, 2016|
|Good Friday||March 25, 2016|
|Easter||March 27 and 28, 2016|
|Queen's Day||April 27, 2016|
|Liberation Day||May 5, 2016|
|Ascension Day||May 5, 2016|
|Whitsun Weekend||May 15 and 16, 2016|
|Christmas||December 25 and 26, 2015/2016|
2015 School Holidays
|Spring holidays:||Southern provinces and Central Holland||20 February - 28 February 2016|
|Northern provinces||27 February - 7 March 2016|
|May holidays:||30 April - 8 May 2016|
|Summer holidays:||Northern provinces||16 July - 28 August 2016|
|Central Holland||9 July - 21 August 2016|
|Southern provinces||23 July - 4 September 2016|
|Autumn Holidays:||Northern provinces and Central Holland||17 October - 25 October 2015|
|Southern provinces||24 October - 1 November 2015|
|Christmas Holidays:||19 december - 3 january 2016|
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