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A Dutch Christmas is similar to the experience in other western, predominantly-Christian countries: Christmas in the Netherlands is typified by family gatherings, the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, the eating of fine food and drink and in some – but not all families – the arrival of Santa Claus ( in Dutch) and the giving of gifts.Many expats staying through the Dutch Christmas season are thus pleasantly surprised by the familiarity of Dutch Christmas traditions while at the same time relieved, perhaps, of the absence of some of the more commercial traditions that go hand-in-hand with festivities back home.Today there are still some sweet treats and cookies that are only eaten during the festive season, including While the commercialised, shop-till-you-drop Dutch Christmas cheer might sound familiar to you, there are still some unique differences between a Dutch Christmas and, say, Christmas in the UK or US to be discovered.For example, a long-time tradition among farmers in the rural east is the 'mid-winter horn blowing'.Many people will also display a nativity scene with their Dutch Christmas decorations.The decorated Christmas tree has become widely popular since its introduction to the Netherlands in the 19th century.
In fact, many Dutch residents will attend church on Christmas Eve night, but research also indicates that family get-togethers get higher priority.
This custom begins on Advent Sunday (the fourth Sunday before Christmas) and continues until Christmas Eve.
Farmers use long horns made from the wood of elder trees, and everyday at dawn they blow the horn while standing over a well to announce the coming of Christ.
Another custom is to place an Advent wreath in the living room with four red or yellow candles.
The first candle is lit on Advent Sunday and an additional candle is lit each following Sunday.