I’ve been in Amsterdam for a little over 4 months and it seems like 10% of those days have been made up of holidays.
There’s literally a holiday every 3 weeks.
While in school and in jobs that I didn’t love, I used to live for the holidays. The holidays that we got out of school or didn’t have to go to work are of course the best types of holidays. Except for Halloween. Where your cleverness is tested among all of your friends and it’s socially acceptable to act anyway you want, dressed as anything you desire.
The first holiday came a mere 2 weeks after I started Knowmads. It was ‘spring’ holiday according to all the other school calendars so Knowmads went along with it. In my opinion this kind of messed up the flow of the start of Tribe 5 because who really has a week holiday 2 weeks after you start a new school? Knowmads apparently. I could understand the holiday if we started 3 weeks earlier because after 5 weeks of school, yes, you need a break. But no, we had just started.
Come April we had Easter, which is completely understandable but it did feel like we were just on holiday. We got Good Friday off but then there’s this thing called 2nd Easter. This is the Monday after Easter. Not exactly what this is about in Christianity, we don’t acknowledge it in America, but it did lead us and the rest of the Netherlands to nothing being open. Though I did find the occasional Albert Heine market grocery store open around the city depending on location, so that was nice.
Next up for holidays was Queens Day on April 30th. I already wrote about Queens Day in a earlier post but to remind you it is the celebration of the Queen but really just an excuse to party everywhere. Because this is the hugest party holiday in the Netherlands, all the schools had holiday for the rest of the week. This meant Knowmads as well. Which was when I really started the question all these holidays we were having. Not sure if they are necessary especially when we usually only have 4 day weeks scheduled in our calendar. 3 day weekends seem to be the norm.
During that week of school holiday, there was also 2 other national holidays happening on Friday and Saturday. On Friday was Remembrance of the Dead day to remember all the victims of WWII. This didn’t seem to be a huge holiday over here unlike our Memorial Day which remembers all soldiers who’ve died but most people aren’t really remembering. In America, Memorial Day is now more focused on the celebration of the start of summer. Because starting this day, always the last Monday of May (happens to land on my birthday this year, May 28th), the fashion law says you can wear white and it’s also officially BBQ season/summer. Here in the Netherlands I didn’t see anything happening on the streets or around Amsterdam but I was told there were events going on.
The day after Remembrance of the Dead day is Liberation Day on May 5th to mark the end of occupation from the German Nazis in WWII. There were festivals happening all around the Netherlands but nothing so big that the Dutch were telling me all about how exciting this day can be. I did run into a big event that was happening at the Amstel river. They had thousands of seats/bleachers set, a band playing, and a big jumbo screen that I assumed had something to do with Liberation Day. I didn’t stay because I was on my way to get my haircut…priorities.
What’s interesting about May 5th is that no one here in the Netherlands knows about Cinco de Mayo. I wanted to celebrate but no one heard of it except for my Mexican Knowmad, Sally. We were going to get margaritas that night but the plans fell through. I ended up making fajitas for dinner for Floris, our sick council member, so I did honor the holiday a bit. Cinco de Mayo also reminds me of St. Patty’s day here in Amsterdam because barely anyone in the city was celebrating that day in March. I remember seeing a couple of Irish pubs with green balloons but they weren’t crowded with people like you’d see back home. Is it because there aren’t many Irish here or that the Irish don’t have much of a following like they do in America. Unfortunate really, because the Dutch love to party so why don’t they just adopt this holiday. Perfect excuse to act crazy in public. Think about it Dutchies. It would just be a low key version of Queens Day for you. I’m throwing it out there. Think about it.
The most recent holiday to pass was Accession Day on May 17th. Have you heard of it? I hadn’t until last week and I grew up a Christian. Accession Day is the day Jesus went to Heaven. Apparently he stayed down on earth for 40 days or something and decided to peace out and go back and chill with his Father in Heaven. Why didn’t I learn this in Sunday school? This was all huge news to me. Kind of like when you finally realize who won the Civil War when you had been going to battle fields for years. The news kind of hits you in the face. Accession Day is a government holiday so all stores and businesses were closed Thursday or closed early. This can definitely ruin your plans especially if you’re looking for cheap beer. Note: stock up on alcohol the day before a holiday.
I’m not done. There’s one more holiday coming up and that’s May 28th. Not only is it a holiday because it’s my birthday but because it’s the 2nd Pinksterdag. A pretty fun word when you leave it in Dutch but it means the 2nd day of Pentecost. Again, we don’t celebrate this in America. I didn’t even know there was a 2nd day of Pentecost. Is the first day of Pentecost Easter? I’m really starting to question the American protestant churches because if half the western world is celebrating this day it must mean that it’s pretty important. This is great news for me though since I’m missing my Memorial Day birthday back home, I will still get to enjoy my birthday on a holiday this year. Awesomesauce.
Do you think it’s necessary for all these holidays? Are people really honoring the 2nd Pentecost?
Do you think a school that doesn’t follow anything the regular system follows except the holidays makes sense? We question everything else but when it comes to holidays we go along with it. hmmmmm