Back-to-back May Holidays in the Netherlands

May 4th and 5th are two very important days in the Netherlands: Dodenherdenking and Bevrijdingsdag.


This is Memorial Day in the Netherlands. At 8pm every May 4th, two minutes of silence are observed for those who gave their lives for this country since the outbreak of World War II. Each year sees various ceremonies going on all over the country to commemorate those lost.

Everything stops during the two minutes of silence: broadcasting, public transportation, traffic, and even activity on Twitter. From 1994-2001 flags were flown at half mast during the day and raised during the ceremony during the playing of the Dutch national anthem Het Wilhelmus. In 2001, it was decided to let flags continue to fly at half mast.

In Amsterdam, the ceremony is held in the Dam Square and is attended by members of parliament and the royal family  This year, given the tragic terrorist events that occurred during Queen's Day 2009, security around Amsterdam was extra tight. Unfortunately, this proved to be a necessary precaution. During the last few seconds of the two minutes of silence, a man standing outside of the nearby Madame Tussaud's began to scream. This started a stampede of terrified onlookers resulting in more than 60 injured victims. Two men were arrested, one of whom was already known to the police. To read further, click here.



This is Liberation Day in the Netherlands. Every 5th of May, the country celebrates it's liberation from Nazi Germany at the end of World War II. The Netherlands was liberated in August 1945 by Canadian troops with aid from British and American armies. It was decided that this victory would be commemorated on the day the German troops capitulated: 5 May 1945. This, of course, makes this year the 65th anniversary of Dutch liberation from Germany.

Until 1990, liberation was commemorated every five years. In 1990, it was decided to make this a national holiday which the Dutch now celebrate each year. Festivals, cultural readings, and exhibitions are held throughout the country with the Prime Minister kicking off the celebrations, each year from a different province in the Netherlands. The day is ended with an official televised concert attended by the Queen and members of the cabinet at the Amstel Bridge in Amsterdam. I'm happy to say that this Dutch May holiday was uneventful!

[Source: NL Planet, Wikipedia,]