You may know the Dutch people by their height (the average Dutch height is the highest in the World), by their tulips, by their windmills, by their cheese, by their art and archicteture and even by the orange colour they use in football matches.
I love Dutch culture and specially the Dutch people, because they are so modern, modest and tolerant. Dutch people value ambition, education and hard work. Some people think they are rude, but they consider themselves honest and straightforward. During the time I have been here, I was never mistreated. On the contrary, they were always very nice and polite to me.
Dutch is a Germanic language, so it has some simmilarities with the English language. If you visit The Netherlands, you may want to learn some Dutch words:
- Hoi – Hello
- Dank u – Thank you
- Alstublieft – Please
- Hoe heet u? – What is your name?
- Mijn naam is ______ – My name is ______
- De factuur, alstublieft – The bill, please
- Tot ziens – Goodbye
If you try to speak their language, locals will feel like you respect their culture, since you had the kindness to learn some of their words in order to try to communicate with them.
If you are greeting someone from the distance, simply wave, don’t shout.
When meeting, both men and women shake hands. Although men always shake hands with other men, when two women or a man and a woman get acquainted, it is common to see them kiss each other on the cheek three times.
When talking with a Dutch person, don’t forget to hold eye contact. Also, if someone asks you personal questions, don’t assume he or she is being impolite. It is as ordinary as talking about the weather.
You should avoid calling The Netherlands “Holland”. Most people who give The Netherlands this name don’t know it is the name of a province in the western coast and not the name of the entire country.
Dutch people, just as many other Christian Europeans, celebrate New Year, Easter, Carnival and Christmas. They also cellebrate other public hollidays, such as the Liberation Day, the Ascension Day and Pentecost.
Besides being in the Netherlands this Summer, I have also been here during the first week of March, wich has coincided with this year’s Carnival. The moment I arrived, I started seeing crowds of funny disguised people, and I was not expecting that, because in the city where I live people do not care as much about celebrating Carnival as the Dutch do.
I visited s’Hertogenbosch (Den Bosch), a city that changes its name to Oeteldonk during Carnival. Everyone uses a traditional scarf and carries a frog symbol. There was a parade with hundreds of disguised people, and also traditional music and street food.
If you visit this city, you have to go to Jan de Groot’s pastery shop and try the famous Bossche Bol, the most delicious traditional cake.
Art and Architecture
In my next post, wich is going to be about regions and places to visit in The Netherlands, I will also talk about this subject, because each region has its own style and there are many museums featuring different artists and different art periods.
In every city, we can see old buildings next to new buildings, wich gives us information about the architectural evolution through the decades.
The Netherlands are the most populated country in Europe. Thus, they have to be smart and creative when it comes to space for homes and buildings.
Many artists, such as Rembrandt, Johannes Vermeer, Vicent Van Gogh are from The Netherlands. The Dutch Golden Age of Painting (17th century) is known for its concern with the real world, so most art pieces from this period focus on history, portraiture, landscapes and still lifes.
The Netherlands have the most developed cycling trails system in the world. The majority of Dutch people ride bicycles on a daily basis: either to go to work, shopping, meet friends or recreational tours. This country is mostly flat, an excellent characteristic for bikers. For those who like bicycles, this is the paradise!
What do you like most about Dutch culture? Is it too different from your own culture? Do you have Dutch friends? Let me know in the comment section.