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MAIN Arrow to Christmas Christmas Arrow to Christmas in Europe Europe Arrow to Christmas in Holland Christmas in Holland

Prettig Kerstfeest - Merry Christmas in HollandChristmas comes extra early in The Netherlands when, in mid-November, Sinterklaas arrives with his assistant, Zwarte Pieten (Black Pete) by boat from his home in Spain.

The big media event is covered by Netherlands TV stations nationwide. Sinterklaas mounts a gleaming white horse to lead a parade of happy children and their parents through town. Similar parades ensue in towns throughout the country.

While the arrival of Sinterklaas marks the official beginning of the Christmas holidays, the big celebration culminates on December 5th, the eve of St. Nicholas Day, when children leave out cookies for Sinterklaas and fill their shoes with hay and carrots for his horse.

In the morning, treats and presents are in store, especially if the children have been very good, but twigs are left if they've been bad. Later, families will usually gather for gift exchanges, for what the Dutch call "surprises" - gifts given anonymously and signed only... "Sinterklaas."

Holiday dinner may precede or follow the exchange of gifts, but traditionally may include generous helpings of Dutch Christmas treats such as Kersttulband (Christmas Ring Cake) Pepernoten (Peppernut Cookies) and Speculaas Koekjes (Spice Cookies).

Dutch St. NickWith the major celebration over and done, December 25th is a day usually spent quietly with family. However, there's more holiday excitement to come as the Dutch celebrate with champagne and sweet oliebollen to welcome in the New Year...

More information about Christmas in Holland around the Web:

St. Nicholas - Netherlands
- Check out a wonderful overview of modern and traditional celebrations with feature stories on Christmas in Amsterdam, Texel, and other sightings of Sinterklaas throughout Holland.

Christmas Market Fluweelengrot in Valkenburg - Welcome to "The Velvet Cave," a major Dutch Christmas market with photos, facts and information on this year's highlights, schedule, admission fees.

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