At the beginning of the year, the Dutch make holiday plans. The holiday fair is open these days and a lot of commercials are being aired announcing rebates for those who book their holiday early for the rest of the year.
Two types of holidays seem to me typical for the Dutch:
1. For many Dutch the first holiday of the year is a week of skiing. I find it amusing how eager they are, considering that one cannot ski in the Netherlands, as the country doesn’t have mountains. The Dutch fill up their cars and start on a journey of more than 1.000 km to France, Austria or Switzerland, where they ski, their children take skiing lessons and at the end of the day the main activity is the “aprés ski”, meaning parties in huts mostly accompanied by poor music (schlagers, carnival music).
For the less fortunate Dutch there are “gipsvluchten” (cast flights). I thought it was very funny that there is a dedicated word for these flights bringing the Dutch who are injured during skiing or snowboarding from the mountains back to the Netherlands. In similar cases, but then during the summer holidays, the Dutch who get ill can come home using the “parasolvluchten” (parasol flights), mostly from the popular destinations like Greece, Spain, Turkey.
2. When spring begins, the Dutch start to become recognizable on the European roads with their caravans or, the more luxury versions, the campers.
Especially for the families with small children and with a more limited budget, the camping seems to be the first option for a holiday. They either park their own caravan for 2-3 weeks on a camping or they hire one there, either way the camping loving Dutch seem not to need too much luxury. A typical image for the camping life is crossing the distance from the caravan to the toilet with a roll of toilet paper under one’s arm. Imagining a holiday with such conditions, with no bathroom of my own, with neighbors you cannot avoid or ignore, stuck in one place for the whole time… I don’t really understand the charm of the camping. The children have fun at the swimming pool or on the playgrounds and that seems very important for the parents.
A real case I have heard of and which I find unbelievable: a caravan owning family has spent a holiday on a camping just outside their town and they used to come home every now and then to do the laundry or clean the dishes.
I have also heard of Dutch who go camping with their caravan and who return every year to the same place, same camping. That is also something I cannot understand.
The year 2013 seems to be bleak as far as holidays are concerned, because of the economical crisis (a term we hear every day on the news, I don’t know about you, but I am saturated with this obsession) it seems that about 27% of the Dutch will not go on a holiday this year. Last year 22% of the Dutch were in this position.