If you’ve only just arrived in The Netherlands or been in the country for a while there are a lot of strange Dutch habits, customs traditions to discover. Here are just nineteen of the weird things the Dutch get up to.
1) Cycle everywhere without bike helmets
Maybe it is cycling from a very early age that makes the Dutch very confident when it comes to getting about on two wheels. Not only are they able to multitask while cycling but they do so without even wearing bike helmets (and think it’s strange if anyone does).
2) Eat very salty liquorice
If a Dutch person ever offers you liquorice (Dutch drop) be very careful. It could be a trap. Some types of Dutch liquorice have a very extreme salty taste that will make everyone of your taste buds scream out in horror. It’s hard to understand how the Dutch can love the stuff so much.
3) Ignore emergency alarms (if it’s on the first Monday of the month)
On the first Monday of every month, at noon, a rather scary sounding alarm screeches over the whole of the country. The Dutch ignore it though since they know it is just a scheduled test. But what happens if there is a real emergency on the first Monday of the month at noon?
4) Use the Dutch word ‘dus’ for everything
The Dutch word ‘dus’ (which mean ‘so’ in English) is very flexable. It can be used to communicate a wide range of thoughts, feelings and emotions. It can be everything from an angry stop word to a suggestive come on (and more). That’s why it is best not to get the intended meaning mixed up.
5) Celebrate birthdays by sitting in a circle with tea, coffee and a slice of cake
If you only consider a party to be a party if the music is too loud, the police have been called three times and someone is passed out in the corner you are going to be slightly disappointed by a Dutch birthday party. It mostly involves sitting in a circle and drinking coffee. Even on this list it is one of the most strange Dutch habits.
6) Go camping in style
When the Dutch go camping they go camping on their own terms. Why should getting in touch with nature be done without indoor plumping, a fridge/freezer, washing machine, heating, a home entertainment system and the other luxuries of home?
7) Greet each other with three kisses on the cheek
If a Dutch person suddenly kisses you on the cheek three times don’t get any romantic ideas. It is just their way of saying hello (and goodbye). It’s usually reserved for close friends and family so don’t go over using it yourself. That would just be odd.
8) Understand the use of ‘de’ and ‘het’ even though the rule makes no sense
Most Dutch people will tell you there is a very simple rule for using the words ‘de’ and ‘het’ (which both mean ‘the’ in English). Then they remember all the times the rule does not work and admit you just have to be Dutch to understand it.
9) Celebrate the Kings birthday (or anything else) by dressing up in orange
Whenever it is celebration time in the Netherlands the Dutch will go orange crazy. It’s no surprise since it is the official colour of the Dutch royal family (house orange). It must be a very confusing time for anyone who suffers from colour blindness.
10) Put lots of mayonnaise on their fries
The Dutch love mayonnaise. They love it so much that every chip shop in the land will automatically add it to your order if you don’t explicitly tell them not to. Anyone who does request not to have it is seen as an oddity. In The Netherlands mayonnaise is basically considered its own food group.
11) Drive on the right (which is weird if you are British)
Never get into an argument with the Dutch about which country drives on the correct side of the road. You will lose. They will use your own language (English) against you to explain why driving on the right side of the road makes them right and you wrong.
12) Sometimes live in dangerous houses (especially in Amsterdam)
Old Dutch houses have a lot of charm and character, which is a polite way of saying they can be incredibly dangerous. Spiral stairs so steep they can be classified as twisty ladders, fuses that would withstand a lighting strike and mice as house mates are just a few of the strange things you might find.
13) Ignore all the rules of queuing
When it comes to queuing in The Netherlands there are no rules, only survivors. It is every man, woman and child for themselves. Anyone who has ever tried to board a busy train in the Netherlands will be very familiar with this (and probably still suffer from flashbacks).
14) Wait ages to be served by waiters
The biggest mistake you can make when trying to get served by a Dutch waiter is trying to get served by a Dutch waiter. They are masters in finding other distractions. They will only serve you when they are ready and there is not a damn thing you can do about it.
15) Recognize the official start of spring based on ladies fashion
It is not the appearance of the first tulip or the first baby bunny that ushers in the start of spring in The Netherlands. It is Rokjesdag, the day Dutch ladies start wearing short skirts again (and the day most guys start accidentally walking into lamp posts).
16) Celebrate New Year’s Eve with a lot of very big explosions
Most countries will have a few safe firework displays on New Year’s Eve. Holland on the other hand actually tries to blow itself up. At the stroke of midnight it is as if someone tosses a lit match into the countries entire supply of fireworks (and it does not run out till at least 2am).
17) Are un-phased by parts of their country being seven meters below sea level
If you lived with the constant risk of your country being reclaimed by the sea you would probably be a little nervous. Not the Dutch. Most of them don’t even think about it. Maybe it’s because to them The Dutch are not below sea level, the sea is above Dutch level and they are the masters of it.
18) Eat lots and lots of chocolate for breakfast
The Dutch love sweet things on their bread for breakfast. Chocolate paste, chocolate sprinkles, chocolate shavings and more. What could possibly go wrong with giving children (and adults) a massive sugar rush every morning?
19) Celebrate Sinterklaas on the 5th of December
Sinterklaas might seem like a serious copyright infringement to anyone who gets their gifts from Santa on December 25th, but don’t be mistaken. Sinterklaas is the original. Santa is the copy. In this case it is the rest of us that are being weird.