Living in The Netherlands

Learning Dutch: Christmas and New year

Kerst en nieuwjaar (Christmas and New year)

Christmas is an important feast in Holland. It lasts two days (25 and 26 December), and is often celebrated with family get togethers and copious lunches and dinners. Houses are decorated with Christmas trees, candles and other decorations.

For many people, a mass or church service on Christmas eve, Christmas night and/or Christmas morning is an important part of Christmas. Others ignore the religious aspects and just enjoy the festive atmosphere.

Traditionally, we don't give each other gifts at Christmas, but in recent years gift giving has become popular. It is common for companies to give their employees and business relations a Christmas gift, usually delicacies or wine.

New year's eve is also celebrated with a family get together, playing games and eating oliebollen (deep-fried dough). At 12 o'clock sharp, the new year is celebrated with champagne and fireworks.

Een kerstlied: Komt allen tezamen

The Dutch text:
Komt allen tezamen,
Jubelend van vreugde,
Komt nu, o komt nu naar Bethlehem!
Ziet nu de Vorst der 
   eng'len hier geboren,
Komt, laten wij aanbidden,
Komt, laten wij aanbidden,
Komt, laten wij aanbidden 
Die Koning.
A literal translation:
Come together everyone,
Jubilant for joy,
Come now, o come now to Bethlehem!
See now the King of 
   angels, born here,
Come, let us adore,
Come, let us adore,
Come, let us adore 
That King.
The English text:
O come, all ye faithful, 
Joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, o come ye to Bethlehem!
Come and behold Him, born the King of angels.
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

Een kerstlied: O dennenboom

The Dutch text:
O, dennenboom, o, dennenboom,
Wat zijn je takken wonderschoon!
Ik heb je laatst in 't bos zien staan,
Toen zaten er nog geen kaarsjes aan.
O, dennenboom, o, dennenboom,
Wat zijn je takken wonderschoon.
A literal translation:
O, fir tree, o, fir tree,
How miraculously beautiful are 
   your branches.
I saw you in the forest lately,
But there were no candles on 
  [your branches] then.
O, fir tree, o, fir tree,
How miraculously beautiful are 
   your branches.
The English text:
O, Christmas tree, o, Christmas tree,
How steadfast are your branches!
Your boughs are green in summer's clime
And through the snows of wintertime.
O, Christmas tree, o, Christmas tree,
How steadfast are your branches!

Het kerstevangelie

Kerstevangelie Christmas gospel
NBG-vertaling, Lucas 2:1-7 King James bible, Luke 2:1-7
1 En het geschiedde in die dagen, dat er een bevel uitging vanwege keizer Augustus, dat het gehele rijk moest worden ingeschreven. And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.
2 Deze inschrijving had voor het eerst plaats, toen Quirinius het bewind over Syrië voerde. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
3 En zij gingen allen op reis om zich te laten inschrijven, ieder naar zijn eigen stad. And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
4 Ook Jozef trok op van Galilea, uit de stad Nazareth, naar Judea, naar de stad van David, die Bethlehem heet, omdat hij uit het huis en het geslacht van David was, And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
5 om zich te laten inschrijven met Maria, zijn ondertrouwde vrouw, welke zwanger was. To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
6 En het geschiedde, toen zij daar waren, dat de dagen vervuld werden, dat zij baren zou, And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
7 en zij baarde haar eerstgeboren zoon en wikkelde hem in doeken en legde hem in een kribbe, omdat voor hen geen plaats was in de herberg. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.


Dutch English
Kerst Christmas
Kerstmis Christmas
Prettige kerstdagen Merry Christmas
Gelukkig nieuwjaar Happy new year
Kerstboom Christmas tree
Kaars Candle
Kerstavond Christmas eve
Eerste kerstdag Christmas day (25 December)
Tweede kerstdag Boxing day (26 December)
Kerstvakantie Christmas holiday
Kerstlied Christmas carol
Nieuwjaar New year
Nieuwjaarsdag New year's day
Oudejaar The last day of the year (litt. Old year)
Oudejaarsavond New year's eve
Oud en nieuw New year's eve and night (litt. Old and new)
Jaarwisseling Midnight on new year's eve, turn of the year (litt. Year exchange)

Midden in de winternacht
Kerstverhalen, liedjes en recepten


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