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Second Day of Christmas in the Netherlands

Many people in the Netherlands observe the second day of Christmas, which falls on December 26. It is a continuation of the Christmas holiday or a chance to spend time outdoors or with family or friends. It is also Saint Stephen's Day.

Is Second Day of Christmas a Public Holiday?

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

Church Service

Some Christians in the Netherlands attend church on St Stephen's Day.

©iStockphoto.com/Slobo Mitic

What Do People Do?

Some Christians attend church on December 26 to mark Saint Stephen's Day. However, many people spend the second day of Christmas in much the same way as Christmas Day. They spend most of the day preparing and eating a large meal with family members or close friends. Many couples spend Christmas Day at one partner's parental home and the next day at the other's parental home. Others visit relatives such as grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, nephews or nieces.

Other people plan a more active day and go for a walk or cycle ride in the countryside or along the coast, take part in sports competitions or visit a children's farm or a Christmas market. Christmas markets with mobile ice skating rinks are especially popular. Those who spend the day quietly may spend the evening attending the theater, a musical or the cinema. For some people, December 26 is the traditional day to depart to countries such as France, Austria, Germany, Switzerland or Italy for a winter vacation centered on skiing or snowboarding.

Public Life

Many people in the Netherlands have a day off work on December 26. Banks, post offices and many businesses are closed. Depending on local government policies and customs, stores may be open or closed. Stores that are open may open later and/or close earlier than usual. Public transport services generally operate a slightly reduced service, but there may be no public transport in rural areas. There are some restrictions on selling alcohol on December 26. There may be some congestion around the Christmas markets, shopping malls specialized in furniture and popular visitor attractions.

Background

The Christmas celebration traditionally lasted for 12 days from December 25 (Christmas Day) until January 6 (Epiphany). Epiphany commemorates the three wise men's visit to Jesus, according to the Christian bible. The 12-day feast reflected the winter festivals in Europe during pre-Christian times. The December 26 holiday is now all that remains of the long feast.

In the church calendar, December 26 is Saint Stephen's Day. Saint Stephen lived around the same time as Jesus. He was responsible for distributing aid and support to widows within the church community and was renowned for his preaching skills. He was tried for blasphemy and stoned to death.

Second Day of Christmas Observances

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday Type
2015SatDec 26Second Day of ChristmasNational holiday
2016MonDec 26Second Day of ChristmasNational holiday
2017TueDec 26Second Day of ChristmasNational holiday
2018WedDec 26Second Day of ChristmasNational holiday
2019ThuDec 26Second Day of ChristmasNational holiday
2020SatDec 26Second Day of ChristmasNational holiday
2021SunDec 26Second Day of ChristmasNational holiday
2022MonDec 26Second Day of ChristmasNational holiday
2023TueDec 26Second Day of ChristmasNational holiday
2024ThuDec 26Second Day of ChristmasNational holiday
2025FriDec 26Second Day of ChristmasNational holiday

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