Dutch Holidays & Festivals
Prinsjesdag (English: Day of the Princes) is on the third Tuesday in September. The king visits the Binnenhof in The Hague, which houses the Dutch parliament, to officially open the new parliamentary year. The king gives the ‘speech from the throne’ (Dutch: troonrede) in which he outlines the main policies of the government for the coming parliamentary session.
On the same day the Minister of Finance announces next year’s national budget to the House of Representatives. This budget is traditionally carried in a special briefcase (‘het koffertje’). After this presentation there is a parliamentary debate about the budget, called the general deliberations (Dutch: algemene beschouwingen). The king travels from Noordeinde palace to the Binnenhof in his Golden Coach (Dutch: Gouden Koets). Prinsjesdag is always a very festive event in The Hague and people from across the country travel to the Hague to catch a glimpse of the king.
Leidens Ontzet (the Relief of Leiden) is celebrated on October 3. The day commemorates the retreat of the Spanish who had occupied the city during 1573 and 1574 during the Eighty Years war or Dutch Revolt. Traditionally free herring and white bread are distributed at the Waag in Leiden, referring to the rebels who arrived and supposedly fed the citizens exactly this dish. In the afternoon there is a large parade and in the evening there are fireworks. Many people working in Leiden have a day off and the University is officially closed during this day.
The Dutch have been celebrating Queen’s Day on 30 April, which is the birthday of our previous Queen Juliana, since 1949. On her investiture our previous Queen, Beatrix, decided to retain the date in honour of her mother and because her own birthday on 31 January was unsuitable for the traditional outdoor festivities. Since 2014, due to the arrival of the new king, we will be celebrating King’s Day on 27 April: King Willem-Alexander’s birthday.
During King’s Day there will be many big festivals and festivities throughout the country. The most popular city to celebrate this event is Amsterdam.
This is the day that the Dutch commemorate all civilians and members of the armed forces who have died in conflict, wars or peacekeeping missions since the outbreak of World War II. of the those fallen during the World War II. At 20:00 the entire country is silent for two minutes.
This day marks the end of the occupation by Nazi Germany during the World War II. Various festivals are organized and this is a public holiday in schools, universities and government offices. The national celebration takes place in Amsterdam and the capitals of the twelve provinces (for South-Holland this is The Hague). There are various concerts and markets.
This day celebrates the birthday of Saint Nicholas (‘Sinterklaas’, or simply ‘de Sint’) the patron saint of children. Sinterklaas arrives mid-November on a boat from Spain: this is a national event. He is then welcomed and cheered by the children, who in return receive lots of candy. Traditional candy is ‘kruidnoten’ or ‘pepernoten’, these are very tasty ginger bread-like cookies. When ‘de Sint’ is in the country children can place their shoe next to the chimney and will find that the Sint has left them a present the next morning. In the evening of December 5th children get presents. Many adults still celebrate this by drawing names after which they have to write a small, teasing, humorous, poem and buy a small gift (these are often creatively disguised, which we call ‘surprise’).