A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
5th of May: Liberation Day
If you have been wondering what the sirens you probably heard this morning were for; it is 5th of May, the anniversary of the liberation of Netherlands from the Nazi occupation during the Second World War: Liberation Day, or Bevrijdingsdag in Dutch.
The nation was liberated by Canadian, British, American, Belgian, Dutch and Czechoslovak troops. Probably depending on where you will, every year in the morning of 5th of May, army vehicles from these countries demonstrate a parade, recreating the arrival of liberation forces to the town, with people waving flags from sideways. Thus, the sirens you probably heard in the morning were coming from this symbolic parade.
Celebrations don’t end with this. There are several festivals all around the country celebrating liberation. For instance, The Hague has a big one hosted on several spots with different activities such as concerts and lectures on different topics. Don’t worry if you are not there yet, the events go on till midnight, so you can still go and catch up! You can find the programme here: https://www.bevrijdingsfestivaldenhaag.nl/bevrijdingsfestival-5-mei/
This year, the 5th of May was on a Sunday. But it is good news as Liberation Day is an official day off only once every 5 years and the next one is in 2025.
4th of May, Remembrance Day
As nice as the Liberation Day celebrations are, I personally see the tradition of commemorating the victims of the war the day before celebrating the end of it more valuable than the liberation celebrations itself: 4th of May, Remembrance Day, or Dodenherdenking in Dutch.
Many people gather in the town square or the war monument, where ever it has been chosen for it, shortly before 8 pm. Veterans of the war attend the ceremonies. At 8 pm, 2 minutes of silence held for the memories of people who died in the war. People leave flowers to the monument and think about the memories of the victims.
Did you attend any of the events for these two days? What are your thoughts on them? Share in the comments!