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Ascension Day in the Netherlands

Ascension Day in the Netherlands marks the time when Jesus ascended to heaven for the final time following his crucifixion and resurrection. It is the 40th day of Easter and is always on a Thursday.

Is Ascension Day a Public Holiday?

Ascension Day is a public holiday. It is a day off for the general population, and schools and most businesses are closed.

Many pieces of art were created to portray the bodily Ascension of Jesus to heaven.

©iStockphoto.com/Clayton Hansen

What Do People Do?

Some devote Christians make a special effort to attend a church service on Ascension Day. For others it is just a day off work to enjoy an early morning walk or cycle ride in the spring weather or carry out household maintenance.

In the Netherlands, some combination of Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Easter Monday, Queen's Day, Liberation Day, Ascension Day, Pentecost and the Second day of Pentecost fall close together in late April or early May. Many schools have a holiday lasting two to three weeks around this time so the Ascension Day period is a popular time for people to take some of their annual leave and go on a short break or longer vacation.

Public Life

Ascension Day is legally considered to be equivalent to a Sunday and many people do not have to work. Post offices, banks and many businesses and stores are closed. Some stores, particularly in stations, airports and areas that attract a lot of tourists, are open. There are some restrictions on the sale of alcohol on Ascension Day. Public transport services run a reduced service and there may be no services in rural areas.

Background

In the months of March, April, May and June, many Christian feast days commemorate important events at the end of Jesus' life. Good Friday commemorates his crucifixion, Easter Sunday celebrates his resurrection and Ascension Day remembers his bodily ascension to heaven. Some Christians believe that Jesus ascended to heaven from the Mount of Olives (Mount Olivet), a mountain ridge in east Jerusalem. The spot is said to be marked by the Ascension edicule, an octagonal structure once part of a church. Inside the Ascension edicule is a rock that is said to bear the imprint of Jesus' right foot and was the last point on earth that he touched. Ascension Day is an important feast in the Christian liturgical year.

Traditionally on Ascension Day, people went out into the fields just before sunrise. They then walked or danced barefoot in the dew (dauwtrappen). On this day, the dew was supposed to have special healing and purifying properties. Now, particularly in the northern and eastern of the Netherlands, some people go out early to walk or cycle in the natural surroundings. Marching bands perform early in the morning in some villages in the southern parts of the Netherlands.

Symbols

Through the centuries, many artwork pieces were created around the bodily Ascension of Jesus to heaven. Some show Jesus in a white garment surrounded by his followers. Others depict Jesus standing on a cloud or rising to heaven while his followers watch from the ground.

About Ascension Day in other countries

Read more about Ascension Day.

Ascension Day Observances

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday Type
2015ThuMay 14Ascension DayNational holiday
2016ThuMay 5Ascension DayNational holiday
2017ThuMay 25Ascension DayNational holiday
2018ThuMay 10Ascension DayNational holiday
2019ThuMay 30Ascension DayNational holiday
2020ThuMay 21Ascension DayNational holiday
2021ThuMay 13Ascension DayNational holiday
2022ThuMay 26Ascension DayNational holiday
2023ThuMay 18Ascension DayNational holiday
2024ThuMay 9Ascension DayNational holiday
2025ThuMay 29Ascension DayNational holiday

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