Every Christmas Eve, local school children come to Holten & Groesbeek Canadian Military Cemeteries in the Netherlands to light a candle in the honour of every soldier laid to rest. The act is both humbling and beautiful, as well as a reminder to be grateful for the peace we enjoy today. Unfortunately however, this year will be a little different.
Because of the Covid-19 pandemic that continues to shake up our lives, the candlelight ceremonies will not be made public this year.
Instead, volunteers from the SVNF (Stichting Viering Nationale Feestdagen) will continue this solemn tradition on their own, quietly, and out of the public eye.
Thousands of Dutch families have decided that they will still light a candle from their own windows however, all for the Canadians that liberated them 75 years ago.
This Webpage explains the situation (in Dutch only)
Translation of webpage:
Christmas Eve 2020
The year 2020, in which we wanted to exuberantly celebrate 75 years of freedom, was unexpectedly disrupted by the Coronavirus. Unfortunately, this year the commemorations and celebrations could not be held or could be held only to a very limited extent. At the moment we are in a second wave of the Coronavirus, the end of which is not yet in sight.
Every year on Christmas Eve, pupils of the Holten elementary school place candles at the graves of all the fallen who are buried in the Canadian cemetery in Holten. This year, due to the current Corona measures, this ceremony will unfortunately not be able to take place with an audience.
As the board of the Stichting Viering Nationale Feestdagen (SVNF) we regret that we cannot organize a commemoration this year. It would be irresponsible to gather together with so many visitors on this evening. Of course our organization will place candles at each grave on December 24th, but without an audience.
Visiting the candles at the Canadian cemetery on Christmas Eve is entirely at your own risk. We advise everyone to strictly follow the applicable Corona measures.
The SVNF hopes for your understanding and wishes you good health in these difficult times. We also wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Contact info for this organization: Stichting Viering Nationale Feestdagen Holten, Mr. G. Vixseboxsestraat 20, 7451 GW Holten The Netherlands
Watch the Live Stream this year in Groesbeek - with a breathtaking, albiet quiet video of this year's Christmas Eve Homage.