If you were in Amsterdam last week you may have noticed the road blocks, flowers, and masses gathered at Dam Square. This is because on May 4th the Dutch hold a Remembrance for the Dead – to honor all those who fought and died in World War II and in wars in general. There is a gathering in Dam Square, with a ceremony taking place in front of the War Memorial. The Queen also makes an appearance, and walks down the square from the Royal Palace to the Memorial. At 8pm, the country comes to a standstill when two minutes of silence are observed
The following day on May 5th, the Dutch celebrate Liberation Day to commemorate their 1945 liberation by Canadian troops. After the 1945 liberation, Liberation Day was commemorated every 5 years, but in 1990 the day was declared to be a national holiday and would be celebrated every year.
On Liberation Day, the patios are overflowing with merry drinkers and the streets are draped in red, white and blue (colors of the Dutch flag). If you are Canadian, you are likely to score free beers at one of the many beer gardens.
Many people also take to the canals, which are jammed with boats. In the evening the place to be is on or along the River Amstel, as everyone heads to the Carré (the national theatre) for an outdoor evening concert on the water. The Queen is usually in attendance as well.
Despite being a national holiday, many people still work on Liberation Day so not all services are disrupted.