Could May 5 become an annual national holiday?

Could May 5 become an annual national holiday?

Anyone living and working in the Netherlands knows that, while the country may have a relatively flexible approach to work with many people working part-time, it has disappointingly few bank holidays. Aside from Christmas and New Years, the only public holidays recognised annually are Easter Monday, King’s Day, Ascension Day, and Whit Monday. 

The topic of public holidays has become more prevalent in recent years, as people question why May 5 - Liberation Day - isn’t a public holiday. Sure, civil servants may have the day off, but why does the rest of the country only get it every five years? The good news is that Prime Minister Mark Rutte says May 5 could become an annual holiday much sooner than we think. 

Could the Netherlands get an extra public holiday?

Liberation Day is recognised as an official holiday by the Dutch government, but precious few people actually get to enjoy a free day. For years, workers unions and politicians in The Hague have been fighting to have May 5 as a holiday every year.

Speaking at a Liberation Day event on Thursday, Rutte said this could very well happen in the not-too-distant future: “I have the impression that we are very close to that [happening].” He attributes this to Gerdy Verbeet, who holds the position of chairman of the National Committee for May 4 (Remembrance Day) and May 5 but is set to step down this year, saying the holiday would be her legacy.

Trading Whit Monday for May 5

The reason May 5 isn’t already a holiday is fairly simple - there are already a number of public holidays in April and May, and adding an extra one might be considered a bit much. However, the Christian National Trade Union (CNV) and the Netherlands Trade Union Confederation (FNV) disagree, arguing that there aren’t many holidays in the first place, and the country’s freedom should be celebrated every year. 

While it looks as though May 5 could be a holiday fairly soon, it might be best not to get your hopes up. Companies would have to include May 5 as a holiday in their collective labour agreements, and some political parties have argued that Whit Monday could be traded for May 5, which would mean at the end of the day that the Netherlands still only has seven public holidays a year.

Victoria Séveno


Victoria Séveno

Victoria grew up in Amsterdam, before moving to the UK to study English and Related Literature at the University of York and completing her NCTJ course at the Press Association...

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