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Planning to spend Christmas in the Netherlands and wish to attend a traditional Midnight Mass in Amsterdam? Then visit one of the five enchanting venues below for a Christmas Eve to remember.
Christmas Eve in the Netherlands
Many Dutch, including those that are not overly religious, attend a Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. Indeed, it is a delightful way to savour the true spirit of Christmas and enjoy a sense of community. Which is why almost every church in the Netherlands holds a special Christmas Eve service (Protestant churches) or Midnight Mass (Catholic churches), complete with church choir performing traditional Dutch Christmas carols, such as “De herdertjes lagen bij nachte” (“The shepherds watch their flocks by night”), “Er is een kindeke geboren op aard” (“A child is born”), “Komt allen tezamen” (“O, come all ye faithful”) and of course, “Stille nacht” (“Silent night”). And, although older generations still attend midnight mass on an empty stomach, before enjoying a hearty breakfast in the middle of the night as Dutch tradition dictates, most have forgotten the old-fashioned rituals and go purely to experience the unique Christmas atmosphere.
Top 5 Midnight Mass venues in Amsterdam
If you’re in Amsterdam over the Christmas period, then you won’t want to miss Midnight Mass in one of these five beautiful settings:
Those who wish to completely immerse themselves in the Christmas spirit should attend Midnight Mass at the Papegaai – a small church in the Kalverstraat, where the service is recited in Latin. Midnight Mass at the Papegaai is always busy, so make sure you arrive well ahead of schedule (22h) if you want a seat.
The Sint Nicolaasbasiliek, opposite Central Station, is a must for lovers of vocal harmony, for it is at this Midnight Mass that the celebrated Cappella Nicolai choir performs a haunting selection of Christmas carols. Due to its enduring popularity, places must be reserved in advance.
English Reformed Church
If your Dutch is a little rusty, then make your way to this lovely English Church in the Begijnhof. Midnight Mass is held in English in the Begijnhof chapel between 21h and 23h, and is followed by a charming recital of the Christmas story in the adjacent church at 22.30h.
Oude Lutherse Kerk
The Oude Lutherse Kerk, located on the pretty Singel canal, is another ideal venue for non-native speakers who wish to attend Midnight Mass in Amsterdam. At this captivating service, Christmas carols are sung not only in Dutch; but also in English, French, Spanish, Swedish and Russian.
Arguably the most popular Midnight Mass in Amsterdam is the one held in the famous Westerkerk on the Prinsengracht. The start is announced with the beautiful sound of the carillon and followed by a selection of readings from the Bible. A highlight of Midnight Mass at the Westerkerk is undoubtedly the music, which includes several works by Bach performed on the church organ. If you plan to attend Midnight Mass at the Westerkerk, make sure you that you arrive in plenty of time – you needn’t worry about standing around in the cold, as hot chocolate is served to all those waiting!
Prefer to read this article in Dutch? Then visit our sister blog, Heimwee.info, specifically intended for Dutch emigrants.