I’m from The Netherlands, but currently live in Slovakia with people from all over the world, but I’m the only Dutchie. I never realized we do things a bit different in Holland than in the rest of the world. Here are a few examples of the unusual habits we have in Holland.
We have overfull agendas with appointments scheduled by time. These appointments can be related to work, but are mostly related to
things we need to do in our free time and appointments with friends. That’s right, in Holland we schedule appointments with friends. Dropping by uninvited? We might not open the door or tell you it’s not a good time. My schedule says I’m now having an evening for myself. It’s that bad.
Us Dutchies cycle everywhere! With boots, sneakers, flip-flops or stiletto’s. No matter the weather conditions. Does it rain? We put on our raincoats, open up our umbrellas and with one hand on the steer and the other hand holding the umbrella and we cycle away. Multitasking is not uncommon when it comes to cycling in Holland. One bike, two kids (one in the front, one in theback), three shoppingbags and a beer crate and off we go. No problem. Do you have more than two children? That won’t keep you from cycling them around.
Us Dutchies love to cycle so much, apart from our cycling back and forth to work, school, hobbyclasses, friends and family every day, we like to go on cycling holidays. That’s right, when we finally have two weeks off work, we like to spend it cycling in a different environment than our own. My mum once cycled all the way to England, with all the bags on the bike. Impressive huh?
Any occasion to celebrate the Dutch love will lead to a full population dressing up in orange. Orange is Holland’s national colour and at occasions like the Soccer World Cup, Queensday (Koninginnedag) or anything like it, we dress up in orange. While we seem like a nation that keeps distance to eachother, we set free when we wear orange. The gallons of beer we drink during these occasions might help as well. Queensday (April 30) is a special day for the Dutch. We celebrate the queens birthday. That it’s not her birthday that day, but her mother’s, we tend to forget. Queensday is a day of music, bands, drinking, dressing in orange, more drinking, more music, did I say drinking?, markets, and oh.. more drinking.
In Holland children don’t believe in Santa. Probably the biggest National Holiday in The Netherlands is the celebration of Sinterklaas. Who the &%#& is Sinterklaas? Well I’ll tell you. Sinterklaas is a saint from Turkey. He nowadays lives in Spain and every year at the end of November the sails to Holland with his massive ship, accompanied by hundreds of black helpers (zwarte Pieten). Say what? Uhm.. yes.
In Holland we like to believe that the black helpers become black from going down the chimneys to bring the children presents. Has absolutely nothing to do with the years of slavery by the Dutch from Afrika to South America. 😉 Anyway, this has been tradition for years and years, and kids love it! They all wait for Sinterklaas to arrive and they dress up like zwarte Pieten. In the weeks before December 5th, when Sinterklaas and his Zwarte Pieten bring the big presents, the kids put their shoes in front of the chimney, eh.. radiator, and sings songs. They put a carrot in their shoes for the horse (oh right, Sinterklaas comes with his white horse, on the roof.. uh huh.) and hope to find some sweets or small presents in their shoes the next morning. Sounds good right? The zwarte pieten always bring big beanbags with pepernoten (see picture) and sweet, which they give, or throw, to the kids. All sounds a bit strange, but it’s loads of fun!
.. Food! (mashed potatoe & vege, cheese, herring, frikadel, bitterballen)
Dutchies love to eat. Fact. Still we don’t have the best cuisine in the world. Our main course contains mostly potatoes that we mash with overcooked vegetables as curly cale, & endive, gravy and a big sausage on the side. For snacks we love everything with cheese.I must say I think the best cheese comes from Holland. Why else would we have a cheeseshop on every corner and the last shop you see at Amsterdam airport sells exclusively cheese? And what do you think about herring? Did you ever see a Duchman eat herring? We eat them raw! Grab them by the tail, dip them in a cup of onions and enjoy! Some other snacks you can’t miss when you visit the Netherlands: frikadel, kroket, patatje speciaal (chips with mayonaise, curry and onion), drop (liquorice), stroopwafels (waffles with caramel filling) & kaassouffle (cheesesnack). During New Year’s Eve we stuff ourselves with oliebollen (fried dough with or without raisins) & apple fritters. Lovely!
.. Dinner at 5.30PM!
To stay in the food-zone. Don’t be suprised if the streets in Holland are empty between 5 and 6 PM. Dutch people eat strictly between that time!!
You can’t go around it. Dutchies are die hard coffee drinkers! AAn average Dutchman can’t wake up before having a cup of coffee. Arriving at work, we start our day with drinking some coffee with colleagues. During work any excuse to have coffee will do. Arriving home there’s coffee. And ofcourse after dinner. If you don’t like coffee, you better start to like if before you move to Holland 😀
.. Tile Wisdom!
Almost every household has at least one. A small tile as decoration with a wise saying on it. The tile is more than often blue and white(Delfts blauw, also typically Dutch) and has sayings like: ‘Wat er ook gebeurd, altijd blijven lachen’ (whatever happens, keep smiling), ‘Voer eendjes, geen oorlog’ (Make love, not war), ‘Niets is zo irritant, als een truttig tegeltje aan de wand’ (nothing is more annoying than a sily tile on the wall), Mannen moeten als koffie zijn, goed, sterk en heet (Men should be like coffee, nice, strong and hot) etc. Most tiles you can find in the toilet. So you have something to read when doing your thing.
.. 3 kisses!
This can be confusing sometimes, as well for the Dutch person as for the foreigner. I’m often left hanging when I think we’re going for 3 kisses and the other person is satisfied with two. Also what happens is that when I’m more determent I suprise the other person with an extra kiss on the cheek. So listen remember: whenever you kiss a Dutchie, 3 kisses on the cheeks!:D
I think Holland is the only country where we not only congratulate the birthdayboy/girl, but also everyone else in the room! It’s considered as inpolite when you don’t do this, so every time you go to a birthdayparty you have to shake hands and kiss everyone in the room (x3 remember), whenever you know the person or not. If I find out whoever thought of this silly habit I will hunt him down and kick his ass! Dutch birthdays are probably the most boring in the world. If you want to be prepared, stay tuned. When you arrive, start the routine descibed as above. You can sit down somewhere, mostly the chairs are already set up in a circle, you just need to take a seat. In the middle of the circle there’s often a table. We serve coffee and tea first, with a slice of cake on the side. Don’t bring any cake. The birthdayboy/girl is expected to take care of the cake, drinks and snacks. They won’t expect you to bring any food or drinks, but a gift (or money) is always appreciated. After cake and coffee it’s time for alcoholic drinksor sodas. The cake makes room for the snacks; cheese cubes, peanuts, crisps, sliced sausage and if they really go crazy: bitterballen (see above). If you’re staying for dinner, don’t expect a three course meal. Mostly it’s an easy meal like soup with sandwiches or patatje speciaal with a frikadel.
.. Hair products. For Men!
I think nowhere in the world is a place where people use as much hairproducts as in Holland.
Expecially guys. Dutch Men would be lost without their hairgel (strong fix, out of bed, wetlook?) / hairspray / cream wax / strong hold clay. So don’t think you can stroke his hair without consequences. You might end up with some real sticky hands 🙂