By Kate Parvis, Toastmasters Agora 75, blogger-in-chief for the D59 2023 Conference

Remembrance Day (Dodenherdenking), on May 4, is an annual observance in the Netherlands that remembers those who died during war and in peace-keeping operations. It is the day before Liberation Day. Though Remembrance Day is not a public holiday, Remembrance gatherings are held throughout the Netherlands. Every year, people dedicate two minutes of silence at 8pm (local time) on May 4 to pay their respects to soldiers and civilians who died during World War II, as well as other military conflicts and peace-keeping missions. Wreaths are laid at various places, such as the National War Memorial in Amsterdam. The first Remembrance Day was held on Amsterdam’s Dam Square in 1945. On the following day, May 5, the country celebrates Liberation Day.

Liberation Day (Bevrijdingsdag) is celebrated in the Netherlands on May 5, the day after Remembrance Day. It commemorates the end of the Nazi occupation during the Second World War, as May 5 is the date of the German army’s defeat. Incidentally, the city of Eindhoven celebrates its Liberation Day on September 18, the day in 1944 when Eindhoven was one of the first cities in the Netherlands to be liberated by Allied Forces. However, Eindhoven will also celebrate national Liberation Day activities on May 5.

Liberation Day is a national holiday in the Netherlands every 5 years. The next time is in 2025, so May 5, 2023 is not a national holiday. This is fortunate, as most public services (transportations, shops, banks) would have been closed or restricted!

Liberation Day marks the celebration of freedom and the end of the Second World War for the Netherlands. It’s a good time to:

  • Commemorate peace and security.
  • Take a moment to consider what peace and security means to you and realize how lucky you are to live in a country where people live in freedom, unlike many other places in the world.

The flag is hoisted throughout the Netherlands and liberation festivals are held everywhere. Join in with the festivities and celebrate freedom!

Things that usually happen on Liberation Day:

  • Convoys of military vehicles throughout the Netherlands
  • Open-air pop festivals, music, theater, and poetry
  • Documentaries about the liberation of the Netherlands
  • Walking routes
  • Liberation Festivals in 14 cities throughout the Netherlands: Amsterdam, Den Bosch, The Hague, Assen, Almere, Leeuwarden, Wageningen, Groningen, Haarlem, Roermond, Zwolle, Utrecht, Vlissingen and Rotterdam. With over 200 artists performing, these festivals are the biggest freely accessible events in the Netherlands.

Since 1987, the Liberation Day programme has been organized by National Committee for 4 and 5 May (Nationaal Comité 4 en 5 mei), which is the main Dutch authority for war monuments and memorials.

For more information on the Liberation Day Festival in the Netherlands:

4 to 5 May committee website
List of Festivals
Liberation Day for Expats
National 4 to 5 Committee Facebook Page

There is even a recipe for Freedom Soup 2023! According to London Loy, who invented this Corn Soup recipe based on corn porridge, a famous Suriname dish: “Corn soup is just delicious: sweet, creamy–even spicy if you prefer. The recipe is vegan, but those who wish can add meat.” You can read this and other tips at the recipe: Repas liberté.

While researching this article, this blogger discovered other fun holidays on May 5, 2023:

No Pants Day, when people are encouraged to go out in public without pants and act perfectly normal. No need to sport just underwear, however; dresses, skirts and kilts are not pants! Up to you to decide!

Space Day, an unofficial holiday devoted to all things outer space. The public and especially youth, are encouraged to learn more about space and space exploration. Why not visit the retro-future Evoluon?