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Christmas Eve in the Netherlands

Many people in the Netherlands celebrate Christmas Eve (Kerstavond) by attending a church service and getting together for a family dinner. Unlike in neighboring countries, December 24 is traditionally not a day to exchange gifts.

Is Christmas Eve a Public Holiday?

Christmas Eve is not a public holiday. Businesses have normal opening hours.

Christmas Eve is a quiet night in the Netherlands.
Christmas Eve is a quiet night in the Netherlands.
©iStockphoto.com/Tran The Vuong

Celebrate Christmas Eve

Most homes have a Christmas tree with lights and prepare a special dinner. The Christmas meal may include hare, goose, or turkey. Many people eat Christmas stollen, a sweet yeast bread filled with almond paste and raisins.

Traditionally, there are no gifts on December 24 as Sinterklaas brings them on St. Nicholas Eve 19 days earlier. As the bringer of gifts, Sinterklaas is still more popular than Santa who is called Kerstman among children in the Netherlands. However, many Dutch are taking on the traditions of neighboring countries, and exchanging presents is a growing trend. Today, about half the population celebrates Christmas with presents.

Public Life

Christmas Eve is not an official public holiday in the Netherlands. However, Christmas Day and the Second Day of Christmas are holidays.

About Christmas Eve in other countries

Read more about Christmas Eve.

Christmas Eve Observances

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday Type
2010FriDec 24Christmas EveObservance
2011SatDec 24Christmas EveObservance
2012MonDec 24Christmas EveObservance
2013TueDec 24Christmas EveObservance
2014WedDec 24Christmas EveObservance
2015ThuDec 24Christmas EveObservance
2016SatDec 24Christmas EveObservance
2017SunDec 24Christmas EveObservance
2018MonDec 24Christmas EveObservance
2019TueDec 24Christmas EveObservance
2020ThuDec 24Christmas EveObservance

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