What started at a local cemetery in the small town of Holten, the Netherlands, has grown to become a yearly tradition that is quickly spreading throughout the Netherlands to honor those who liberated the country in World War II.
75 years ago the Netherlands was liberated by American, Polish, Canadian and British soldiers. Many of whom were younger than 25 years old, leaving their families to fight in countries they had never been. Knowing there was a possibility that they would never come home again and many of them didn’t.
To remember the fallen soldiers and make sure that they aren’t alone on Christmas Eve, far from home, a tradition was started at the Canadian War cemetery in Holten, the Netherlands where 1,393 heroes are laid to rest. On Christmas Eve candles are lit on each grave and the local community comes out to remember.
What started as a community initiative at the local cemetery in Holten has now become a yearly tradition at World War II cemeteries all over the Netherlands. It was only 75 years ago that the Netherlands and most of Europe were terrorized under Nazi rule, and the candle lighting ceremony is a beautiful tradition that shines a light on the lives that allow for the freedom the Dutch now get to enjoy.