HELPING YOU NAVIGATE THE NETHERLANDS: WINNERS OF THE DUTCH CHRISTMAS & NYE
Announcing the winners of the DUTCH CHRISTMAS & NYE Quiz 2023!
1st prize: One hour of Dutch education consultation (which you may also gift to someone else). WINNER: Anna
2nd prize: A nice plant for in your house, your garden, or your balcony (we’ll ask the winner for their preference). WINNER: Ana
3rd prize: Bottle of mulled wine to warm up again after a cold day. WINNER: Ferenc
You’ll find the answers to the Dutch Christmas & NYE quiz in the text below:
After Sinterklaas – a bishop who was born in the city of Myra in current-day Turkey around the year 280 A.D.- leaves our country on the day after his birthday (December 5th), many Dutch people will get ready for the Christmas celebrations. For most Dutch families, Sinterklaas still is the main character for giving presents to children. Parents of older children, who don’t believe in Sinterklaas anymore, sometimes decide to switch to Christmas as the main gift giving event instead.
Did you know that the Dutch immigrants have brought their Sinterklaas tradition to the USA? Some of the elements have changed over time, but probably for this reason there are so many similarities between Sinterklaas and Santa. The latter character, who is called Kerstman (‘Christmas man’) in Dutch, doesn’t play much of a role in the Netherlands, and most children have never truly believed in his existence.
Christmas starts on Kerstavond (Christmas Eve), followed by Eerste Kerstdag. December 26th -Tweede Kerstdag in Dutch- is also an official holiday. According to some people, because in this way you don’t need to choose between having dinner with your own family or your in-laws…
And what do many Dutch people traditionally eat as a NYE snack? The answer to that is ‘Oliebollen’, a sort of doughnuts, paired with powdered sugar. See the picture above. This tradition presumably originates from the 17th century, where poor people went from door to door in the cold winter months, to sing a song in exchange for something filling to eat that was easy to hand out.
Another tradition during the Christmas period is Radio 3FM’s Serious Request, a week-long fundraising event for a charity organization. Last year’s good cause was the ALS foundation (a deadly motor neuron disease). They have been very successful and raised more than € 7.5 million! What an accomplishment!
In Amsterdam, we also have some lights in the dark days: the Amsterdam Light Festival. For a few more days, until the 21st, you can admire more than twenty artworks made with lights based on this year’s theme ‘Loading….’, about the effects of technology and artificial intelligence (AI) on our everyday lives.
I am very proud that my son, together with around 1,500 primary school pupils in Amsterdam, worked on the ’Next Connection’ artwork with artist Yasser Ballemans. First, the pupils looked each other in the eye and discussed about whom or what they thought should receive more attention or focus. Then they drew their irises on a coloured plate with bright markers. All these plates were assembled in the artwork. You can admire the result on Herengracht/Leliegracht. Very cool!
I wish you a happy and healthy 2024, and a lot of light, of course!