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Traditions in Holland

Everybody goes out on the streets and wears orange.

The traditions of Christmas

Santa is not a prominent figure in the traditional Holland Christmas celebration. Instead, children look forward to the arrival of St. Nicholas in November. St. Nicholas wears red bishop’s robes and is accompanied by a helper who is known as Zwarte Piet or Black Peter. Children are told that St. Nicholas and Black Peter spend the year writing down good and bad behaviors in a large book and preparing a list of presents that they will give the Dutch children who have been well behaved. If children have been bad, however, they are told that Black Peter will chase them with a stick! In Holland, presents are traditionally exchanged on December 5, also known as St. Nicholas Eve, Sinterklaas Eve, or Sinterklass Eve. Presents are referred to as “surprises” and are creatively packaged in order to conceal the contents. For example, a gift might be wrapped inside a series of progressively smaller boxes or hidden in a location that must be found by figuring out a series of clues. It gets more and more famous to give Christmas presents during Christmas Day every year.

The traditions of Carnival

We don’t celebrate carnival in Holland while they do in the south, mostly Limburg and Brabant. That’s because Carnival is a Christian celebration and the north is mostly protestant. So or people from the north travel to the south or they just go for one night out dressing up crazy. Carnival in Holland is all about just another reason to drink loads of beer and party. We do celebrate the birthday of the King on April the 27th very big. Everybody goes out on the streets and wears orange. There are parties everywhere and in the morning there is most of the time a flea market on the streets.

The traditions of Easter

Easter (Goede Vrijdag, 1e, and 2e Paasdag) takes place next weekend (March 25-28) and this year, coincides with the clocks going forward – so less sleep on Sunday! Easter Monday is a public holiday but Friday is a normal working day, apart from government workers. Easter fires are lit in various parts of Europe and probably have pagan origins. In the Netherlands, most are found in Drenthe, Groningen, Overijssel, Twente, Friesland, and Gelderland but there are all sorts of regional variations about what is burnt and when. The village of Espelo in Overijssel has the world record for the highest hand-built Easter fire: 27 meters!

Short bio of the volunteer:

I´m Sara, 19 years old, happy person, with tons of energy; quite positive with a passion for creativity; theatre, writing, drawing, painting, and styling; love dogs and rabbits; always in for some sarcasm.


Erasmus+ is a programme of the European Commission embracing the fields of education, training, youth, and sports during the period 2014-2020. One of the major aspects is the cooperation between the different fields where the programme acts, hence contributing to a diverse and rich Europe.

Amongst the several goals of the programme, the following are prioritised: the objectives of the Europe 2020 Strategy, including the headline education target; the aims of the strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (ET 2020), including the corresponding benchmarks; the sustainable development of Partner Countries in the field of higher education; the overall goals of the renewed framework for European cooperation in the youth field (2010-2018); the objective of developing the European dimension in sport, in particular grassroots sport, in line with the EU work plan for sport and the promotion of European values in accordance with Article 2 of the Treaty on the European Union.

In order to achieve these goals, the Erasmus+ has several action policies. The Key Action 1 (KA1) is directed towards the mobility of people; Key Action 2 (KA2) for the cooperation for innovation and the interchange of good experiences; and Key Action 3 (KA3) which is for the support of reformation policies.

European Voluntary Service

Since 1991 the University of Madeira Students’ Union has developed a wide incentive policy for voluntary work. In 2013 the Students’ Union started the process to receive, send and coordinate Erasmus+ projects of the European Voluntary Service, in order to have a larger influence in the volunteering field. The Union received its first volunteer withing the ambit of a KA1 project in 2014. Many efforts have been done to allow young people from Madeira to take part in several initiatives in Europe, as well as propose several projects allowing young people from several countries to work in the projects of the Students’ Union of the University of Madeira. The main goal of the voluntary work is the contribution of the volunteers to the communities and places they will be staying, being their work not rewarded with payment.

We believe that the European Voluntary Service is a mechanism full of experiences, allowing the approved candidates to have the privilege of taking part in these projects and benefit the places and communities where these volunteers will be staying.

Since 2013, the University of Madeira Students’ Union has received volunteers that have collaborated in several activities and initiatives. Besides being able to enjoy a wonderful experience which will contribute to their personal and professional growth, they are able to contribute in a unique way to the community in which they are inserted and to join dozens of volunteers from the University of Madeira.