The Dutch are primarily Christians, mostly Protestants. There are also Catholics and other religions such as Islam brought by immigrant groups. Religion has featured prominently in the history of the Netherlands, in many ways one of the principal reasons that the Dutch wanted an independent country. The Netherlands developed a tradition of toleration in relgious matters. After Spain expelled the Jews in 1492, many came to the Netherlands. This acceptance of religious and cultural differences was an important factor in the vibrant intelectual, economic, and cultural life of the Netherlands and conversely the supression of such differences was a major factor in the decline of Spin in the 16th and 7th centuries. As late as the early 20th century religion was still very important in Dutch life. Most people attended church and dressed in their best clothes. Important events in the lives of Dutch children were First Communnion and Confirmantion. Church attendance in the modern Netherlands has fall off significantly.
The history of the Dutch nation is tied up with religion more than any other country in Europe. The Dutch were early converts to the Reformtion insigated by Martin Luther who instigated the Protestant Revolution. The Dutch Reformation was one of the first successes of Protestants outside Germany. At the same time the most Catholic prince in Christendom had become master of the Low Lands--Philip II of Spain. Philip objected to the privildges that the Dutch burgers had acquired over time. When they converted to Protestantism, this as too much for Philip who had talken it as his personal mission to extinguish the Protestant Revolution. The result after a period of low-level cinflict was the Dutch War for Independence, a singularly bloody, prolonged undertaking. It pitted the samall Dutch Republic with the righest, most powerful monarchy in Europe.
The Spanish Army that the Great Armada was to ferry over to England, was the Spanish Army attempting to supress the Dutch. The Spanish prevailed in the south, but the Dutch with English support managed to achieve their independence.
The Dutch since the Reformation are primarily Christians, mostly Protestants. The Dutch War for independence became a largely religious conflict. There are also Catholics. Two provinces in the south were predominantly Catholic: North Brabant and Limburg. There were also Catholics living in majority Protestant areas. There is the well-known "Onze Lieve Heer op Zolder" (Our Good Lord in the Attic), a clandestine Catholic church in the center of Amsterdam at Oudezijds Voorburgwal. After the Reformation Catholics were not allowed to publicly attend mass, so they went to worship in a large house, owned by a Catholic citizen. The "church" is still there. It is a museum now.
Other religions have been introduced by immigrants. In an era of religious persecution, the Dutch Protestants provided a haven for exiled Spanish Jews. The Netherlands were virtually the only have for Jews in Western Europe. Other religions such as Islam appeared after World War II. Christian religious practice has declined remarkably since World War II. The Dutch have become a largely secular nation.
Religion has featured prominently in the history of the Netherlands. This is true throughout Europe, but is especially tue of the Netherlands. In many ways religion was one of the principal motivating reasons that the Dutch wanted an independent country. The Netherlands developed a tradition of toleration in relgious matters. After Spain expelled the Jews in 1492, many came to the Netherlands. This acceptance of religious and cultural differences was an important factor in the vibrant intelectual, economic, and cultural life of the Netherlands and conversely the supression of such differences was a major factor in the decline of Spin in the 16th and 7th centuries.
As late as the early 20th century religion was still very important in Dutch life. Most people attended church and dressed in their best clothes. Church attendance in the modern Netherlands has fall off significantly.
Important events in the lives of Dutch children were First Communnion and Confirmantion. We have begun to develop some information on these important events.
We have some limited information on First Communion. First Communionn is less important in the Netherlands than in many other countries, largely because there are relatively few Dutch Catholics. Dutch Catholics and some Dutch Protestant boys celebrate their First Communions. A Dutch reader tells us, "In the Netherlands First Communion never was a big deal for protestant boys. The Catholics did celebrate it as a major occassion. Unlike Catholics in many other countries, Dutch Catholics take their First Communion when they are teenagers." We are not sure this is the case. The age of First Communion may have changed over time. Our Dutch archive is fairly limited. Thus we are yet able to fully assess the photographic record. We do not have any 19th century or early-20th century images. We do have some post-World War II examples. The photographs we have found, however, clearly show younger bous doing their First Communion. The boy here is a good example (figure 1).
We have little information about Dutch confirmation. Except for the "Catholic" provinces, Brabant and Limburg, in the Netherlands where the children get their First Communion, confirmation in the "Protestant" parts of the country never were as important as in neighboring Germany even in the early 20th century when religion was a more important aspect of Dutch life. The boys in the available images look like older teenagers. Parents would normally send post cards to family and friends on the occassion of a boy's confirmation. Today religion is a much less important part of Dutch life.
A Dutch reader tells us about a tradition shared by Belgium and Holland. "The HBC description of German Sternsingen vividly reminds me of what our children do either at New Year’s Eve (Nieuwjaarzingen = New Year Singing) or just before Epiphany (Driekoningenzingen, Driekoningen = Three Kings). When and what they do and sing varies somewhat according to local tradition. Essentially they roam from house to house, sing one or more songs, whish people a happy New Year and
are given an orange or some sweets or a little money in return. There are a number of traditional songs that are known all over both countries and others that are limited to a certain region or even village. Also, some of the brighter kids will paraphrase well-knowm texts or adapt them to local circumstances, sometimes even touching on topics that have recently occupied the local community. In some places it involves making a primitive musical instrument called foekepot or rommelpot, called rumbling pot in English I think. It is essentially a cylinder covered at one or both ends with a membrane through which a hollow rod of some kind is passed. If you rub it with wet fingers it will produce a buzzing or humming sound. Formerly, wooden or stoneware jars were used and covered with a pig’s bladder, nowadays an tin can and rubber will do the trick."
Easter eggs are an important elementof Dutch Easter celebrations.
America inherited Santa Clause from Holland. The Santa Clause is, however a bit different in the Netherlands and the children do not put out cookies. St. Nicholas or Sinterklaas visits the children with a bag full of presents. It is not, however, precisely a Christmas tradition as he comes on St. Nicholas Eve, 3 weeks before Christmas. The original St. Nicholas was a Christian bishop in Myra, Turkey who renowned for his generosity. Dutch children put out hay and water. Also he Dutch Santa has a black side kick, Black Peter, rather than elves to help him. Black Peter keeps tab on who has been naughty or nice. Also there are horses rather than reindeer. Black Peter was criticised by some as not racially senstive, but that ontroversy appears to be abating.
Dutch children in most areas during January 1-5 will dress up as the Three Wise Men. They use curtains, blankets, shawls and make crowns and stars of bright cardboard. At least one of them will use grease paint or shoe cream to look like King Balthasar.
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