Christmas in Holland

On New Year's Eve the Dutch celebrate Saint Sylvester Day. On December 31 everyone is in a hurry to get up earlier than others. The one who gets up last is nicknamed "Sylvester" and have to pay a fine. In the old days girls were trying to be very diligent and tried to finish their housework before the sun in order to get married next year. Dutch children are most fond of St. Nicholas Day (December 5). On this day they hold parades and receive gift bags filled with sweets and toys.  This evening the Dutch enjoy the banquet table and eat pea soup with smoked meat and of course congratulate each other on the occasion, exchanging gifts. The most important winter holiday however is still on December 25 and its Christmas Day.

The Christmas spirit can be felt in the country from the very end of November. It is at this time when in the streets of towns and villages they start selling «oliebollen». These are so called holiday donuts, fried in oil on all sides, with apple, banana or pineapple stuffing, as well as with cream, or simply sprinkled with powdered sugar. Doughnuts are sold in special cabins and are the symbols of upcoming festivities.

The Dutch believe that miracles can occur on Christmas night. They say that in the holy night animals begin to talk and the water becomes wine. And not just an ordinary wine, but good French one. According to the legend, at the holy night you can witness the "wild hunt" of evil spirits. To scare the evil hunters away in Holland on Christmas they used to blow the horn that is made either from metal or wood, and sometimes reaches a length of five feet. Today this tradition still exists in some cities in Holland.

It rarely snows here on Christmas, but, despite this, the multi-colored lights on the streets and in shop windows create a festive atmosphere. Holland is really worth visiting for Christmas. Here it is celebrated two days in a row. On the second day of Christmas, December 26 Protestants attend various concerts, and the Catholics celebrate St. Stephen’s day, who is considered the patron saint of domestic animals, especially horses. Equestrian events are being organized everywhere.

The whole country, especially Amsterdam has its charming Christmas spirit. There are lots of souvenirs everywhere: in the souvenir shops, Christmas stalls and the flower markets where you can buy all sorts of things. Do not forget to bring home a typically Dutch gift - a rare bulbs in a beautiful mug. The Netherlands is a truly magical country and on Christmas it is particularly noticeable.

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