How Dutch people get rid of their Christmas trees

Where do all the Christmas trees in the Netherlands go after the holidays? Unfortunately, not to a better place.

Quite a few internationals have asked us how to get rid of their Christmas trees in the Netherlands. They thought that a neatly organized country had some kind of decent system in place.

Indeed, in some municipalities, there’s a pick-up scheme for Christmas trees right after New Year’s Day. But there’s, of course, a traditional way of getting rid of the old tree in the Netherlands that warms my heart, figuratively and literally.

Travelling by bike to dump your Christmas tree? No problem! Images: Renzo Gerritsen/Supplied
Group-of-people-walking-down-the-sidewalk-in-a-park-carrying-their-old-christmas-trees
Lots of people making their way to get rid of Christmas trees in a bonfire. Images: Renzo Gerritsen/Supplied

Burning the old Christmas tree

As a kid, I grew up with the burning of Christmas trees tradition that takes place every year in the Netherlands the more trees burning the better! It brings back the primal being in you, and, well, big fires are awesome!

So we at DutchReview can totally dig this photo report by Renzo Gerritsen on a good-old-burn-your-tree gathering in Amsterdam: it’s seriously lit!

If you like Renzo’s photos, then check out his website or follow his Facebook page.

Kids-of-all-ages-carry-christmas-trees-ready-for-the-bonfire
Young-children-in-winter-coats-walk around-with-small-christmas-trees
Children carrying their Christmas trees to a bonfire. Even the little ones are in on it! Images: Renzo Gerritsen/Supplied
Black-and-white-image-with-flare-of-a-man-carrying-his-christmas-tree-on-his-bike
Can’t be a Christmas tradition in the Netherlands without a bicycle. Image: Renzo Gerritsen/Supplied
Groups-of-people-making-their-way-to-the-christmas-tree-bonfire-through-the-park
Man-watching-the-christmas-tree-bonfire
A crowd awaits the yearly spectacle of the Christmas Tree bonfire. Images: Renzo Gerritsen/Supplied
Kids-excited-to-see-the-bonfire
Groups of Dutch children marvelling at the sight. Images: Renzo Gerritsen/Supplied
Silhouette-of-a-man-standing-in-front-of-the-bonfire
Man-throwing-a-christmas-tree-into-the-bonfire
Fireman-watches-the-christmas-tree-bonfire
Three-men-throwing-a-christmas-tree-into-the-bonfire
Another one to the fire! Images: Renzo Gerritsen/Supplied

NOTE: Keep in mind that with the coronavirus pandemic, some municipalities in the Netherlands have banned this tradition this year.

How do you get rid of your Christmas tree in your home country? Tell us in the comments below!

Feature Image: Renzo Gerritsen/Supplied
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in January 2018, and was fully updated in December 2021 for your reading pleasure.

Abuzer van Leeuwen 🇳🇱http://www.abuzervanleeuwen.nl
Founded DutchReview. Rotterdammer living in Leiden. Politics, innovation and epic food-reviews are his thing. Interested in doing anything with DutchReview? Contact him at abuzer[at]dutchreview.com

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5 COMMENTS

  1. There’s got to be a better way than this… We snuck into the woods and replanted ours (it still had its roots). It’s probably better than burning it in the street, but I doubt the boswachter would approve.
    What’s needed is Christmas Tree Rental – you rent your own tree in a pot, to be taken away and replanted after Christmas. I think some options for this exist, but we couldn’t find anything locally.

  2. I personally contacted one of these tree recycle companies in Amsterdam and they told me if I didn’t buy from them they wouldn’t care to collect it and replant it. We bought it in the supermarket with roots to keep it alive. What can we do? Who to contact? Can we just go to a park and try to replant it? I just wouldn’t like to see ours following the same destiny as the hundreds burnt or in the streets. Thank you in advance for the answers:)

    • I can’t figure out what to do with mine either! I bought one with the roots assuming there would be options to replant after the holidays. Yet, everyone I’ve asked has responded with confusion and/or annoyance. The Netherlands believes itself to be forward-thinking when it comes to sustainability, so it’s strange to me that the culture so vehemently embraces this incredibly wasteful tradition.

  3. What a waste! In my town in Ontario, Canada they are collected mid January by the town. The works department grinds them up into mulch. Some is used to put around new plantings, parks, etc. The rest is mixed into mulch and sold to the public. I’m not a tree hugger by any means but I think this is a better and safer solution.

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