Moving to Holland is not easy, but it's worth the effort. This blog tells the story of shifting from American life in Pittsburgh to Expat life in the Netherlands,
and all of our European adventures that follow.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Every Who down in Whoville...

"... the tall and the small, was singing without any presents at all!"

Gouda by Candlelight
December 14, 2010

Contrary to popular believe, Dr. Sueuss' Whoville does exist. It is a tiny town in The Netherlands called Gouda. Each December, they have a Christmas festival called Gouda bij Kaarslicht (Gouda by Candlelight), and they gather around their tree in the town square, sing songs, and cheer as the tree is lit.

This is one of our favorite Dutch traditions that Chad and I have experienced. It does feel like you've stepped right into a story book.

We went a bit early to walk around the small town for a few hours before the ceremony, snapping pictures of the beautifully picturesque Dutch town, and sipping gl├╝hwein. The giant tree is brought in from Norway, and is almost as tall as the impressive medieval Town Hall. Stalls are set up throughout the town selling the typical holiday favorites: poffertjes (tiny sweet pancakes), stroopwaffels (flat syrup filled waffles), oliebollen (ball shaped doughnuts), erwtensoep (pea soup), and patat (french fries).

There are Santa bands playing throughout the town:

as well as drum shows, people dressed in traditional Dutch clothes demonstrating traditional dancing, and even some old men wearing wooden clogs and blowing long Swiss-like horns.

Arjen and Linda live nearby, so they bundled up the boys and brought them out.

An hour or so before the 8:00 tree lighting, everyone gathers around the huge Christmas tree in the town square, with the town hall for the backdrop. The square is surrounded by beautiful historic Dutch buildings, and the trees and alleys are lit with Christmas lights. At dark, every light in the square, and the surrounding buildings, is turned off and candles are lit and placed in the windows, hence the name: Gouda by Candlelight.

Led by a choir, they sing Christmas Carols, some traditional and some Dutch ones that we did not recognize. At 8:00 they counted down from 10 and then lit the tree. Everyone cheered, and flashes went off all over the square, like the opening kickoff of the Super Bowl. Then, everyone sang Silent Night (in Dutch). You couldn't script a more perfect ending to this festive night in Whoville.


*The pics are up on Flickr:

1 comment:

Brandi said...

#1 This made me want cheese.
#2 That is such a cool experience!
#3 The photos are gorgeous (as always)