19 Strange Dutch Habits and Customs

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 and 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).

Read more: How To Cycle Like The Dutch

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.

Read more: The Horrors of Dutch Drop

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?

Read more: The Emergency Alarm

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.

Read more: The Many Meanings of Dus

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.

Read more: The Dutch Circle Party Tradition

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?

Read more: A Dutch Guide To Camping

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.

Read more: The Dutch Three Kiss Rule

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.

Read more: The Great Dutch Mystery – De and Het

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.

Read More: The King’s Day Guide

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.

Read More: Driving in Holland

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.

Read More: The Dutch House Guide

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).

Read more: How To Queue Like The Dutch

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.

Read More: The Trouble With Dutch Waiters

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).

Read More: What is Rokjesdag?

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).

Read More: How The Dutch Celebrate New Year’s Eve

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.

Read More: The Sinterklaas Guide

Are there any strange Dutch habits missing from the list? Let me know in the comments below.

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193 responses to “19 Strange Dutch Habits and Customs”

  1. AQK1982 says:

    Sometimes we are a bunch of weirdos… :-P

  2. Niki says:

    Very funny! I’ll admit I have picked up the habit of using ‘dus’ with everything. The main ones that I am not a fan of are: kissing on the cheek as a greeting (even once, to be honest!), going to birthday parties and congratulating everyone who is in attendance — argh! why?!?, and mayo on fries. Though usually I remember to tell them not to add it so I survive that okay…

    • Stuart says:

      I’ve not picked dus up as a habit but my wife and I do sometimes knowingly use it as a joke.

    • Anniek says:

      Wrong, you have to Pay for mayo, so you really have to ask for it, otherwise they won’t put it on your fries!

      • Stuart says:

        Most the time they assume you want it, add it and charge you for it if you didn’t say otherwise.

      • Johan van de Merwe says:

        But once the Dutch paid for it, they expect a lot of it.

        • Michelle O'Brien says:

          Yes l think that is right it’s swimming in mayo….. and they think it’s weird that l an (English person )is crazy to put vinigar on my chips 😕

      • Maxi says:

        in most restaurants it is brought as standard and not charged

    • Hans van Buuren says:

      That’s onely in Holland and Utrecht.
      In the south they say “proficiat” and grab themselves a beer 😃

      • Adinda says:

        yes! and in the South we don’t say Holland but The Netherlands (which is the name of the country anyways)

    • Florus says:

      I totally agree with you that it’s a very strange habit to congratulate everyone who’s attending a birthday party. I’m Dutch and I don’t understand it either.

  3. Alison says:

    Last night, walking home here in Bologna, we came across two people on obviously rented bikes. More importantly, they were wearing helmets. My boyfriend and I turned to each other and both said, “tourists”. Helmets were always an easy way for us to tell people were tourists in the Netherlands (unless they’re wearing lycra, have racing bikes, and are in a pack, then they’re just a bunch of friends out for a ride).

  4. Axel says:

    I think you missed to barbecue at 15 degrees, on the otherhand, if we would only barbecue at 25 degrees, there would be no point in having a barbecue…

  5. PapaVanTwee says:

    My second visit to the Netherlands was over New Years when they switched over to the Euro in 2002. We have the 4th of July here in the US, and it pales in comparison to what I saw there. I wound up being in one of the fancier neighborhoods that night (my wife’s “perfect” aunt and uncle) so when the fireworks began all around us, it felt very eerie. There was a guy who sold fireworks that lived in this neighborhood, and he was setting up as war erupted on all sides of us in other neighborhoods. Once our fireworks began, it was almost like a display a small town in the US would set up in the park.I fell very spoiled in my first experience.

  6. Alison says:

    Wear helmets in Italy? And ruin the “bella figura”? Never! No sweaty helmet head for Italians. :)

  7. The Lionqueen says:

    Zwarte piet is definitely weird

    • Stuart says:

      Yeah. I was not sure how to approach that one tactically.

      • Jos H. says:

        Zwarte Piet (black Peter) is originally a bought child slave that would given a job with salary and food and shelter. In fact after St. Nicolaas bought them from the slave ships the had the opportunity to learn and live in good health. Later black Peter was a person that became black from the soot in the chimney. That’s why there made black with red lips. Now a day some immigrants concider it discrimination and would like zwarte Piet to be all kind of color except black. This is stupid and od as we Dutch say. Because Black Peter is black and not green, yellow or pink. If he is yellow the Asian people are not happy, if brown you can guess it. If Red the Indians will be offended. If the colour’s of the rainbow the gay people are pissed. So it stays black. Experiments Whit other colours have been done with the opposite effect.

        • Mr. Thinking says:

          This story is not true. Historicaly you can’t find the source for this story. The truth is that Black Pete is made up by a teacher(Schenkman) in 1850. Black Pete was an African house-slave according to the illustrations used in the original book.
          A lot of people can’t understand that this figure is very stereotype and painful for a lot of Afro-Dutch children.
          It’s time to change this part, so every child can have a great time celebrating “Sinterklaas”.

          • free mind says:

            black peter is as the matter affect a culture group called the moors st Nicolaas was born in turky and was a pope he used the moors as his servends they worked for him so now i see you thinking why they are fighting something that has nothing to do with slavery ( Proud to be dutch )

      • Ine Willems says:

        There is no tactical way to approach it, as you can see :-) The problem with Black Pete/ Zwarte Piet, poor thing, is that there’s more than one version of his tale, and that each version has multiple versions of its own. Before christianity established itself, Black Pete belonged to the Wild Hunt of Odin, who rode through the sky at night in the dead of winter, scattering nuts and seeds as a promise of fertility, with people laying offerings at heir hearth; in christian terms he became a demon, Black Moer, in the following of Satan himself. Then there’s the legend/feast of the White Klazen and the Black Klazen (Sinterklaas was one of a veritable army of Klazen), basically also a fertility feast (celebrated on the Dutch isles in the north for instance). And only later on (17th century? 18th?) did Sinterklaas, a lone (Catholic) bishop handing out presents to poor children / giving dowries to girls who were too poor to marry, make his appearance. And yes, to him this stupidly insensitive image of a black slave/helper – and alternately a sooty young chimney sweeper – was added in the 19th century. Sinterklaas has seen so many alterations and survived, it will no doubt survive this controversy too, though Black Pete may alter his guise to suit the times – what else is new?

    • Anniek says:

      It is not ik you would knowhow the real meaning of it. But a small Group of dutch People want to spoil it all!!!!!

  8. #13 is especially intimidating when you’re 5’4″ and are surrounded by towering Dutch people fighting to board the trains…

  9. Robbert says:

    Re: 17. Just think of it as stuffing the sea in your attic. You really only worry about it when it’s storming hard enough that (part of) the roof might blow away.

  10. Burt Rao says:

    Many times I have seen people of smaller height waiting in line to gain access to the toilets. The Dutch urinals are too high even if the shorties stand on tip toe. Why aren’t the Dutch follow international standard? I feel sorry for the Asia Pacific tourists.

  11. Burt Rao says:

    Has anyone had an experience like I had when a waitress brought me fish and chips with mayonnaise over them? When I complained she said “Shorry Yo” and walked away.

  12. Burt Rao says:

    Oh yeah, it used to be that in Holland you had to check out of your hotel room by 10 am. I don’t know if it’s still the same rule. International norm is 12 noon.

    • Stuart says:

      I’ve been to a few places here where it is still 10am.

    • Designy says:

      It depends in which hotel you are staying. Every year I go to a hotel in Veldhoven where the check out is at 12 but this year we are staying at a hotel where the check out is at 10.

  13. Ana says:

    I know what you forgot… when they live the party and say bye-bye to each other they normally do it for dozen of times…

    – Doeiiiii!

    – Daaaag!!


    – Daaag! 😂😂

    – ….

    (And so on en so forth untill they disappear over the horizon!!)

    We had extreemly party lovings neighbours and they freeked me out everytime in the middle of the night by Daaging-Doeing each other for lots of times with the voice as loud as if they were on fire!! 😁

  14. Jhon says:

    Salted herring . Lift by the tail and eat

  15. Elja says:

    Many Dutch, inclusief nyself have a calender hanging in the toiletroom. This calender tells us when friends and family are having there birthday. Nowadays, thnx to Social Media (Facebook alerts), it is less common as it used to be.

    • Stuart says:

      My wife has such a calendar. It used to be in the toilet room but now it is in the kitchen.

    • Elisabeth says:

      My sister calls this a “poop calendar” because it’s usually in the bathroom. I love it,
      have to get myself a new one next time I visit :)

  16. vallypee says:

    Somthesenare all the chapters for your book then, are they Stu? I think it would be brilliant if you organised it like this ;)

    • Stuart says:

      Hehe. Maybe once I’m finished with the first book I’ll have to make a guide to The Netherlands book as well :)

  17. Andy says:

    Driving on the right is hardly weird. I’m British and I understand that most of the world drives on the right. It’s weird to drive on the left strictly speaking…

  18. Aimee says:

    Hi, nice overview. Some really recognizable, others more common in the world.(celebrating new year with explosions). What about ice-skiting on real water during the winter?

  19. w8post says:

    You forgot the ‘Open Curtains’ ! Walking on the street at night, one can look into ALL the houses because the curtains are not drawn.

  20. In 1946 I came to Holland as a refugee and I discovered that Dutch people wipe their anus after making a shit just with a piece of paper only smeering it all over the place. They took a bath only once a week. I always had the imagine that the were smelly. These habits I could never adept to. We wash our bum with water and take a bath every day.

  21. Jeroen Keerl says:

    Being Dutch myself, but living in Germany, I found several peculiarities of us, Dutch people:
    When visiting for a birthday: You’ll get one piece of cake with your “kopje koffie”. You’ll be asked what kind, if there is a choice … and if ou are lucky, you might be asked, if you want a second piece (To go with the 2nd cup of coffee). In Germany, they’ll put a bunch of cakes on the table and everyone will serve himself. (The same with cookies: The thin is held in fromt of you in the Netherlands. You take one out and then the tin goes back in the cupboard).
    When someone has his / her birthday, it is normal in NL to congratulate the relatives with the birthday of their son, daughter, grandchild etc. Everywhere else, you only congratulate the birthday child.

    However: One thing I can’t get my head around: “To go Dutch” is when everybody pays for himself. Which is being done massively in Germany (“Zusammen oder getrennt” (Together or separate), even if you’re obviously married). We never did this when going out! Somebody got the bill and everybody gave him/her enough money to at least cover their own consumptions. ost of the time, the waiter gained a huge tip out of this, since nobody paid less, but rather included the tip.


    • Stuart says:

      I always thought the term ‘going Dutch’ seemed a bit insulting to the Dutch. It might have been another country who invented the term I guess. Maybe even the English :s

      • Monica says:

        It think it’s because we are known as “cheapskates ” 😂 (not true of course!)
        But it really is a common thing here to just all pay your own part of the check…
        For us it’s backwards… if we have an American Bbq, it means you all bring your own meat, while in America that’s called a Dutch Bbq

    • Bert says:

      So right!


  23. Marga says:

    Jeroen Keeri ,
    I was Born and raised in Limburg , for Birthdays there were numerous different pies and Taart , gasten kregen zoveel ze hebben wilden .!!!
    Also after coffee and vlaai of taart , werden er snacks op tafel gezet , and adult beverages were served or soft drinks .
    Most often a Birthday party was held on weekends.!!!!
    Sure miss this ( Gezelligheid) in America.!!!!

  24. Tex O'Grady says:

    Haha, as an Aussie who has only recently went over to the Netherlands for a couple of months to see my beautiful Dutch girlfriend, (who is immigrating to Australia next year) I can relate to the 19 strange habits, I also found it strange that the Dutch don’t pull their curtains of an evening. As for no helmets on push bikes, it is against the law in Australia to cycle without a helmet ( across all age groups!).
    I loved the Netherlands so much along with being in love with my girlfriend, I am heading back over next month for another two months!!
    Thanks for giving me a good laugh!!😜

  25. mel says:

    The birthday parties, the long goodbyes, the early dinning, the cashiers at the supermarkets tossing the products like not giving a daamn :’) the uptight attitudes sometimes.. but also a big amount of multiculturalism.. so yeah, despite some things, I love the culture!

  26. Jokem Aarts says:

    Make it 20… I’m missing the “wavy gesture” to show you find something ‘lekker’ :)

  27. Daan says:

    Most of the Dutch people (including me) keep their curtains open at night.. so every passenger can see what happends inside the house

    • Stuart says:

      Yep. That is so true. I’ve even found myself starting to do it.

      • My ex-boyfriend’s mother posited to me that it was a leftover bit of ingrained Calvinism, like if you’re not doing anything wrong then you should have nothing to hide, so look, see, we’re totally upstanding and are publicly proving it!

  28. Remco says:

    Although most Dutch name it mayonnaise the majority of the fries in The Netherlands are served with “frietsaus”, which is sweeter and has less calories (mayonaise => 70% oil, frietsaus <= 25% oil). But you can get mayonnaise in other other countries as well. I believe that for foreigners it is much stranger to get peanut sauce over the fries (which is also really populair!).

    • Stuart says:

      That’s true. I’ve never really got the taste for Pindakaas (which is something my Dutch father-in-law always takes the micky out of me fore).

    • Jules says:

      Hmmmmmmm!!!! Chips with peanut sauce, mayonaise, curry and unions!!!! It’s called ‘frietje oorlog’, though the north uses ketchup instead of curry!

      • Jan says:

        The curry doesn’t belong with Patatje Oorlog. It belongs with Patatje Speciaal, together with mayo and onions. Using ketchup in stead of curry is almost a blasfemy!
        BTW: In Den Haag and surroundings Patatje Oorlog is called Patatje Flip

  29. Mike says:

    When it is your birthday you arrange/bring cake to the office. I noticed that in (some) other countries your colleagues will arrange that.

  30. Fré says:

    Great list! And one to add: the Dutch fancy humorous advertisements.

  31. Olga says:

    What to think about bbqen inside the house and gourmetten ???

  32. DJP says:

    Most Dutchies have a birthday calendar in their toilet room.
    They eat oliebollen and appelflappen at New Year’s Eve.
    During the Sinterklaas period they eat pepernoten, kruidnoten, taaitaai and gevuld speculaas.
    With their average height they are one of the tallest people in the world.

  33. Steve says:

    Swart Piet at Christmas, throwing sweets off-the-wall back of lorries during mayor’s day festival, human manure on the flower beds… Etc

    • Stuart says:

      Human manure? I did not know about that one.

      • Jules says:

        Noone knows about that, cause that is not something the Dutch do…

        • Kristina says:

          yes they really do. My MIL and her late husband immigrated to Canada with their respective families. Even here they used human manure and they both had done so in Holland during the war and afterward. Mom says they didnt put it on the carrots because they would taste ‘funny’! True story!

  34. Richard says:

    When it’s still cold outside right after spring, each time the sun shines they go outside eating and drinking on a terrace.

  35. Marius says:

    Whenever I have an argument with my wife, in the end I can say: “Sorry hoor!” And it’s allright!
    Sorry hoor sounds like Sorry whore…

    • Stuart says:

      Yeah. I’ve always found it strange the way it sounds like you’re basically calling someone names when you apologies to them :)

  36. Erik Jonker says:

    With number 16 your on thin ice. Try to find some news articles about the fireworks dissaster in Enschede. A complete area was blown to pieces by an accident in a fireqorks storage.
    All other just make me grin

  37. I miss:1) congratulating every family member with the birthday of one of them (so you get congratulated on the birthday of your son)
    2) Making private events (lik birthdays, births etc.) public by putting the figure of stork in your gareden when you had a baby or by putting funny dressed puppets on your front porch when you reach the age of 50 (and caal that an ‘Abrahem’ or a ‘Sara’.
    3) Doling out just one cookie or one piece of cake when you on a coffee-visit, so you have to wait if you ever get more (it’s not considered polite to ask for it…)
    4) Eating ‘vla’, which is nor a custard, nor a sauce…and their yoghurt is fluid, too….

    Well, I got used to all these things. And what I don’t like, I just don’t adopt (like ice-skating gives me a hell of pain in the ankles. I tried, though…it’s very dutch. Everbody gets crazy about the ‘Elfstedentocht’. They call it ‘Elfstedenfever’).

    When I came here from Germany, I thought the Dutch were just the same, only with a different lan

  38. Mayella says:

    Hello all,
    This was fun to read. Thank you.
    I did not see anything about ‘bitterballen en bier’ (brown fruit and beer), or cheese squares and mosterd sauce, or kroketten, frikandellen, eierballen etc……. These are also dutch habits, to be served bitterballen at the end of a congress or seminar.
    Have fun in dutchyland

  39. Hugh Browton says:

    All the above are why I love visiting the Netherlands (though in fact I mostly only visit Holland (the two provinces)).

  40. Harold Ghurahoo says:

    Regarding celebrating the King’s birthday April 27th … it used to be much stranger though! You might remember that we celebrated the Queens birthday on April 30th, but that used to be the birthday of his grandmother, Juliana! So for over 30 years we celebrated the Queens birthday (his mother Beatrix) on April 30th even though it was not her birthday, but her mother’s birthday.. even when Juliana passed away. The reason why is that Beatrix was born January 31st … too cold for a national celebration 😉

  41. C.h.m. Myers says:

    Nou, this is dubbel dutch

  42. Daan says:

    How about the word ‘heh’ it’s used for anything they like! Or; Zo, he, he! This is said when they finish a job or when they just sit down? Or just,.. he? Meaning…. what?

  43. chaoska says:

    We make appointments to see our friends.

    • Stuart says:

      Personally I’ve never found that too strange but I have noticed it. My dutch wife and her friends are always getting their calendars out to see when they are next going to meet up.

  44. Mike Jarvis says:

    Dutch bluntness in language; not necessarily impolite, just blunt and to the point – even with the traffic signs! For example if you mistakenly drive the wrong way on a one-way street, the bluntness of the warning sign will make you want to get out put your car on your shoulders and walk with it in the correct direction. Ga Terug! (Go Back!). Complete with an exclamation mark! Wow. Ja meneer.

  45. Renfred Sprock says:

    The fireworks are more on the Island of Curacao.

  46. Elizabeth van Gorkom says:

    I love this. I’m an expat married to a Dutchie we have had these conversations 😊😁😁😁😁

  47. Samuel Sais says:

    They don’t use to put curtains in the windows; The lighting inside the houses is poor and indirect, mostly lights are on the wall, not in the ceiling…

  48. KV says:

    Why strange? Because it’s different?

    • Stuart says:

      I don’t mean strange in a bad way. I’m just having fun with it. We Brits are just as strange, maybe even more so.

  49. FC says:

    Would be nice if you stop confusing the foreigners with the incorrect name of the country Holland, The only correct name is the Netherlands ;)

    • Stuart says:

      That is true. Unless it is the world cup when the Dutch will happily shout ‘Hup Holland Hup’. but you make a very good point and you’ve given me idea for another one to go on the follow up list :)

  50. Mjef says:

    When the temperature rises above 16 degrees Celsius, it is almost compulsory to queue in massive rows on the roads leading to the beach. And on public holidays families love to hang in home maker centres like Ikea…

  51. Jan says:

    Always ask “Why” if you’re told to do something

  52. conservator2016 says:

    3. At least in parts of the North of the Netherlands they stoppe this about 30 years after WorldWar II

    6. camping in a small tent is also very usual.

    7. That habit started not before about 1975 and might have been an influence from the South of the Netherlands, which was in general not very popular in the North. Also Carnival is such a souther vulgar habit.

    8. This just shows the weakness of the English language. All more civilized European language make more or less difference between male, female and neutral words.

    11. Again it is England that is deviating from all normal and more civilized European countries. Lack of civilization is likely one of the backgrounds of the idiotic Brex-shit.

    12. Nonsensical ideas based on very little experience.

    15. I do not think that many Dutch people have ever heard that word “rokjesdag”. I did not at least.

    16. In many cities and municipalities blowing private fireworks is forbidden.

    17. Well, the UK will sink under sea-level after the Brex-shit, apart from Scotland.

    18. Just the fact that English do not know choclate sprinkles (by the way called “cocklate mice” is not justifying that eating this happens that much.

  53. Zuleika says:

    You realize that the fireworks are a custom that actually blew over from the former colonies, right? Same thing happens on the Dutch Caribbean islands, but we follow it with dancing till dawn, and the roads are all red the next morning (from the pagaras). In the U.S.A. people party till midnight, then go home. On the islands people leave home around 1 AM, after wishing the family a happy new year.

  54. frans says:

    Flabbergasted with so much “facts” that are non-existent. Fireworks at new year happens in so many countries, to start with all over China. Wearing a helmet on a bycicle is something for US tourists, not for Dutch for sure. Not waiting in the row? Maybe only in Amsterdam, the rest is nicely queing up. So, the list may look funny but all are hardly correct.

  55. Ineke Buist says:

    We also like Chinese and Indonesian food. Especially saté sauce!
    Once Indonesian had being one of our colonies. Also Surinam, The Nederlandse Antillen, Curacao, Aruba, Sint Maarten and Bonaire were our colonies once. Some still are. Anybody can tell me this?

    Our grammar is very unlogical. Some words are the same but with a totally different meaning. The language in general is very difficult for strangers..

  56. Cisca says:

    Haha this is lovely to read. Have you heard about carrots ans peas combined in a jar…and stamppot? Very popular here. ☺

  57. Jules says:

    Bring your own cake on your birthday

    Plan everything in advance (no spontanious meetups, people will be fully booked for 3 weeks prior)

  58. Eva says:

    Hi Stuart,
    I really like this post. I’m working at Intercultural Professionals (www.interculturalprofessionals.com). We give culture training like ‘Understanding the Dutch’, and I wanted to ask you if it’s okey if we write an article on our webpage about this post of yours, and link to your webpage of course. Please let me know!
    Regards, Eva

  59. Manda says:

    Our grammar indeed knows several determiners for male / female (de) and neutral (het) nouns. Because a lot of Dutch people doesn’t speak normal Dutch and they know very little of our grammar and the history of the grammar, they are not able to teach this to not native Dutch speakers. I am very sorry about that.

  60. Mari says:

    Haha, funny and we have for sure some really weird habits. Specially the birthday celebration, which a lot of people celebrate as you described it. So boring 😝

    But I’m sorry, mayo isn’t automatically add to fries, you have tot ask and pay for it and I totaly disagree to number 14 (and I’m not a waiter myself). Sometimes it happens, but even so in other Countries. The Dutch aren’t an exception

  61. Walter van Hien says:

    They eat raw herrings.
    The better life get, the more they complain.
    As soon as they don’t agree with the gouvernement, they will start a New political party.

  62. Lulu says:

    – Paasvuur (Easter fires) only in the eastern part of NL. Most of them are on private grounds of farmers and you go there with friends, blankets and booze. Starts when it’s getting dark till around midnight.
    – Carnaval.. personally I don’t like it, but it’s a part of the culture..
    – Having taxes for dogs.
    – And everybody’s talking about chips and mayo (patatje met), it makes me hungry ;)

    • Lulu says:

      The Dutch always complain about the weather!

      • Garrit says:

        Nope, my Dutch (actually Friesan) grandmother always said: “There’s no such thing as bad weather… just the wrong clothes”

  63. revjatb says:

    “Un-phased?” You mean UNFAZED. And what is a plumper? Is that like a plumber? Are you sure you’re English?

  64. Renate says:

    We have fleemarkets in the streets. Children will sit on sheets or will rent stands, try to sell their old toys, clothing, antique etc. They just sit next to eachother and it will go for miles.

  65. Nanette says:

    Don’t forget de grachtengordel (canalbelt) in Amsterdam and de Wallen, where everybody can see women selling or hiring theirselves..
    And ofcourse the stroopwafel!
    Also everybody does everything op de fiets pushing 2 or 3 kids in a bolderkar.
    4 days just walking through the country called de 4-daagse, getting a kruisje!
    And on New Year’s day they take a dip in the icecold North sea!

  66. Another strange thing is congratulating every family member or even friends with someones birthday!

  67. Loved the text and the comics! Thanks for the fun! :)

  68. Laura says:

    We use the word ‘hoor’ a lot which sounds in english as whore. We do not call people prostitutes but it means something like ‘right’ or ‘ey’

  69. Andrew Pinxt says:

    Eat raw fish, mix veggies with spuds, rook worst with stampot , every meal complimented with Apple moes, pies soep in winter, famous croket

  70. Bert says:

    Zwarte Piet, who is definitely a keeper.

  71. Mach says:


  72. Mitsja says:

    Dutch waiters and or waitresses huh!?..try to get served by a British waiter/waitress…Oh wait, there are non! There all from abroad!!!…. British peeps are lazy bastards!

  73. Danielle says:

    When the Dutch settles in America, in Mew Amsterdam. They brought their own traditions. Like Sinterklaas. Although Christmas was already celebraed their, Santa Claus didnt excist yet. The Americans took the Dutch Sinterklaas and transformed him into their own version and called him Santa Claus. So Sinterklaas is the original version. But everyone thinks its the other way around. XD

  74. Jacky-Q says:

    What about ‘beschuit met muisjes’ when baby’s are born?

  75. OEH!! We also so LOVE (yes love <3) to go somewhere very cheap.. the more you get and the less you pay, the better it is!
    And don't forget 'going Dutch' ;) splitting bills is so much cheaper then paying it in whole and have everybody pay you back =D

  76. Dave says:

    Try to explain “gezellig” 😂

  77. Thierry says:

    We are congratulating everyone remotely related to the person who actually has something to celebrate. I am Dutch and my wife is foreign, she finds it so weird!

  78. New Years eve is also celebrated with oliebollen yummy Heerlijk 😀

  79. Job B. Hartgers says:

    Nowadays you will see more and that women that do not really know each other, do the three kisses. This goes also for women and men.
    I thinks it becomes a more polite thing to do without any feelings of friendship or love.
    I never understood why three kisses, I know it started in the southern provinces Brabant and Limburg.
    I am not really a kisser, I usually give hugs, but only to friends and relatives. I did kiss my Mother and Father, though.

  80. Carolyn Sorenson says:

    These are great. Explains some of my family’s ways even though we are in the US. Loved reading them. I am half Dutch.

  81. Rina says:

    Let me be clear about something; the Dutch think they are very sociable and inclusive – but sadly we lack all empathy on that front. For most Dutch it is family first, second and last (and if you are very close, you are in luck, some have left room for their very best friends). Relationships on the whole tend to be extremely superficial and no conversation goes into any depth as we lack depth when it comes to it. And worse than that, we have not learned the art of social conversation, not learned how to introduce someone we are with to the stranger we are meeting. We are so full and ready to voice opinions, but only the safe ones, the real one is whispered behind everyone’s back.
    Confrontation – best ignored because it really upsets a Dutch person and thus does not get you anywhere. We simply cannot handle it. And it is either met with an attack back at you, tears or whimpering away into a corner.

    If you start working at a Dutch company, do not expect that anyone realises that you go home to an empty (be it initially a hotelroom – rented room – first flat) and that evenings and weekends can be very lonely – they are not interested in you, do not have the ability to put themselves in your shoes.
    Friday after work drinks…. Dutch prefer to share a beer (paid by the boss) from a crate on the kitchen (or meeting room) table. One beer and off they go (if work finishes at 5 they are off at 5.30 on the dot. There is always someone waiting for them at home. And no evening can be skipped or missed. They are stuck in a rut. And if they tell you about the great weekend they had, you can be rest assured, they have had a few birthday parties to attend from relatives – great or small – Opa, Oma, Niece or Nephew, same family all sharing birthdays in the same month, well they will go again next week, not a problem. Same crappy food (crisps for the kids and little crackers with filet american and brie for the adults) – same non conversation about football practice, swimming diplomas, holiday plans, school results, local dramas of bins not having been collected etc. too dull to mention.

    All this said, despite everything – it is a safe haven on the whole for kids to grow up in and kids are cherished by all family members – too many British men as well as women – have never held a baby, or spend time in the company of a child that they are not related to before they have their own. In Holland the ages mix better and people still look out for one another. Kids are one of the happiest in the world – so all in all – despite us being such boring b@st@rds – that is a major upshot. Even Dutch scum cannot be compared to UK scum, the Dutch variety is merely playing at it in comparison.

  82. To whoever wrote this article… HOW BIG A PUSSY ARE YOU….?????
    (Grtz, a Dutch guy)…

  83. wienerwald says:

    What you missed are the strange rules about who takes the lead when dinner is served. To give you a first hint: if the group leader leads the start of dinner, it’s going to be a nice evening…

  84. Ali Veldheer says:

    number 5 is the. old fashion way to celebrate birthdays. come and stay in my house when we have a party..

  85. Charlotte says:

    Raised Dutch in USA. No wonder we never had birthday cakes! Only cake at coffee time, oh wait we had coffee time 3 times a day. And yes all the old folks set in a big circle.

  86. Mary-Chilton van Hees says:

    The person celebrating the birthday is the one serving cake and entertaining the circle of friends and family. And boy, did I get into trouble not being home at 10:00 am on my birthday to serve coffee and cake to my
    in-laws who showed up uninvited and unannounced.
    And that circle…don’t try to switch seats to talk to another person…it is not “musical chairs”! I was scolded for taking a guest’s spot so I could chat with another guest, AT MY OWN PARTY.
    But that was 30 years ago…has that changed yet?

  87. Joop says:

    We used to burn our trees on new year eve decoration and all also bang our steel garbage lids for a healthy sound loved those four ties

  88. Tamara says:

    Say congratulations to every family member when it’s someone’s birthday.

  89. EH says:

    Eat sandwiches with knife & fork.
    Show off English skills.
    Complain about Morrocans.
    Cycle with anything -kids, other bikes, planks, crates of beer.
    Take the mickey out of Brits’ drinking habits (whilst drinking 39 small beers).
    Drink Jenever
    Not being able to use indicators.
    Not being able to use roundabouts.
    Whinging about the 11 steden tocht.

  90. Karen V. Burrows says:

    Using ” washandjes” instead of a washcloth! Still do after being in the U.S. for 50+ years!!

    • Dia Tamminga says:

      True. When I immigrated to Canada I would buy some in the Netherlands to take with me.

  91. lara says:

    Strangest habit must be “Zwarte Piet”, and the fierceness with which the Dutch defend it.

  92. Ti says:

    Maybe in the northern part of Holland there is no alarm every first monday of the month. But in The Hague and Rijswijk it is still there.

  93. Dia Tamminga says:

    The cycling in the Netherlands is an art on its own. If you think you know the rules they don’t follow them but it is hard to figure out for someone not familiar where and when to go and stop and ride.

  94. siltje says:

    Don’t forget Gaypride parade!

  95. Karin Jongman says:

    a typical Dutch tradition is to have a birthday calender hanging on door of the toilet (inside) which you can study while peeing.

  96. Karin Jongman says:

    When a baby is born, we give all visitors Beschuit (round dry toast with butter) with muisjes (little balls of anise in blue or pink color mixed with white ones) depending on whether you gave birth to a daughter or son.

  97. Zayna says:

    Moved here 2 months ago. Experienced all but 2 of above. I would add
    – tiny bathroom sinks with only cold water
    – appointment must be booked for any type of meeting
    – lekker is used to describe a lot of things that are good, great or the best
    – another word that starts with G (that I can neither pronounce nor spell) that is used to describe an emotion or state that does not exist in the English language
    – milk is the beverage and of choice at adult business lunches or dinners

  98. Johnny says:

    We like to rephrase all kinds of Dutch sayings in bad English, using Dutch words and call it “Dunglish” and we laugh ourselves the balls out of our pants😂😂😂🤣🤣🤣

  99. if rule nr 5 applies you need some new friends mate haha ;-)

  100. Ms.Hasham says:

    If a Dutch ivite you ti dinnet..you should be very careful. Coz most of the time you will have to pay your own meal and drinks. Thats why it is calked Dutch treat.

    All Dutch really has to have the last word and there is always a ‘ja, maar’ (yes, but)

    The Dutch Woman are the Boss, the man has nothing or very less to say.

  101. […] 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 and traditions to discover. Here are just nineteen of the weird things the Dutch get up to: http://www.invadingholland.com/19-strange-dutch-habits […]

  102. Cornelia Hughes says:

    You forgot the delicious bitterballen, the warme chocolademelk met slagroom, the ‘koffie is klaar’ signs outside small pubs in the countryside, everything being ‘lekker’, and the strange loos with the small raised platform in the middle!

  103. Cornelia Hughes says:

    Oh…and I LOVE pindasaus!

  104. Marieke says:

    Being told off for being too direct…Seems to be my issue where-ever I go…and work ! I Always see it as being effecient and not dancing around the ‘pot’ !

  105. NWanderlust says:

    But I still loge the dutch humor. nothing will beat the rudeness of a dutch 😂😂😂

  106. Debby Huiser says:

    There is nothing missend but you have used Holland somewehere, but the country is The Netherlands. Holland is only a small part of it officially.

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