The sun is shining, the kids are playing in the pool, the Christmas bonbons are laid out and there’s a bowl of locally caught tiger prawns on the table; that can only mean one thing, it’s Christmas Day! Well, not for all of us; in my home of Zeeland in The Netherlands, Christmas is celebrated a little differently…

Twinkling lights

Upon moving to North Queensland, it really surprised me how many people go all-out decorating their yard – hats off to you! Back in The Netherlands, you may see some fairy lights or Santa figurines in yards, but rarely anything as spectacular as you’d see here. However, town streets are decorated with wreaths, twinkling lights, and huge gorgeous Christmas trees.

The Christmas meal

In Australia, we’re used to gathering together for a Christmas lunch likely consisting of seafood, salads, and Christmas ham. Believe it or not, I found this concept a bit unusual as in The Netherlands we have a Christmas dinner! Typically, we’d go to our grandparents’ house and celebrate over a meal of turkey, potatoes, and winter vegetables. My grandma also served up halved eggs with caviar and smoked salmon – delicious!

Another popular option is “gourmetten” – gathering around a hot cooking plate with family and cooking
bite-sized pieces of meat, seafood, vegetables, and even omelettes.

Festive nibbles

It’s very common to gift a “kerststol” to family and friends in The Netherlands; a homemade fruited Christmas loaf with marzipan inside. I know my grandmother has definitely kept up this tradition since moving to Australia, and we look forward to it every year! Additionally, while I love the concept of gingerbread houses, back home the concept of “kerstkransjes” is more known. They are scrumptious cookies shaped like Christmas wreaths which can even be hung on the tree.

In conclusion, no matter where you live or what your cultural background is, each family has a unique way of celebrating the holidays, and that’s what makes it so special! Vrolijk Kerstfeest (Merry Christmas) to you all.