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Zwyczaje w Holandii

What are the customs in the Netherlands? Let yourself be surprised!

6 March, 2023
Is 1,200 kilometres a long or a short distance? That is how far away the Netherlands is from Warsaw. So, on the one hand, we are talking about a different European country, and it would be difficult to imagine huge differences between Poland, or other countries in this part of Europe, and the Netherlands, especially in times of globalisation. On the other hand, 1,200 kilometres was until relatively recently a distance that was difficult to cover and definitely conducive to the development of local traditions. Read on and find out about the customs in the Netherlands.

Pragmatism and privacy, or a few words about values

The Netherlands is the most densely populated country in Europe, but that doesn’t stop people living in the Kingdom of the Netherlands from attaching great importance to privacy. The Dutch strongly separate their private and professional lives – it is not unusual for people who work in the same office to behave in a certain way in their professional space and very differently when they meet after hours. Distance between people and boundaries are taken quite seriously, probably because privacy is also connected here with a sense of justice and equality.
Zwyczaje w Holandii pomarańczowy Zwyczaje w Holandii pomarańczowy
In the Netherlands, they say “behave normally, you’ll be mad enough”, which refers to the pragmatic approach to life that the Dutch have. Dutch people prefer to approach problems rationally, straightforwardly, and without overanalysing.

Unusual birthday customs in the Netherlands

The custom of celebrating birthdays is well-known both in Eastern and Central Europe and the Netherlands, albeit the Dutch have decided to add their own twist to the organisation of this special day.

A slightly different approach is taken to wishes. Firstly, instead of the birthday boy or girl, the people who are given wishes, quite commonly, are their parents. Such a message is considered to be fully-fledged wishes and etiquette does not require anything more.

Do you remember your 18th birthday party? The Dutch remember their “twenty-one”. Although, as in Eastern and Central Europe, the age of majority is reached at eighteen, traditionally a lavish party is organised when you turn 21.
Zwyczaje w Holandii urodziny Zwyczaje w Holandii urodziny
Can birthday customs in the Netherlands surprise us even more? Let’s see what happens at the birthday party itself. Once again, there is no room here for long wishes for the birthday boy or girl, as everyone briefly says gefeliciteerd – yes, that’s no mistake. Unless you are just turning fifty, in which case your guests can still address you as Abraham or Sarah to symbolise the wisdom you have accumulated over all these years. Also, don’t expect cake, as the birthday staple in the Netherlands is… tart!

How is it that the Dutch are so well-organised and remember every birthday? On the one hand, the answer is rather obvious: calendars with the birthdays of important people. The interesting part is where they are hanged – the Dutch keep their calendars in the bathroom or toilet. Be that as it may, these places are visited daily, which doesn’t allow any important date to escape notice.

By the bye, it’s worth paying special attention to the gifts, as they will be opened in front of all birthday party guests!

All shades of orange

The Dutch attach great importance to the royal family. How they express their patriotic feelings can be seen very clearly during Koninginnedag, or Queen’s Day. The day is so important that it is officially a public holiday. It is celebrated in all shades of orange – the Dutch not only dress in orange, but also drink orange liqueur and gorge on orange sweets, all because of the symbolism of orange – the colour of the royal family.

Koninginnedag is a day full of enthusiasm, so it’s no surprise that this is also when many vrijemarkt, or flea markets, and festivals are organised. The most famous is Kingsland, during which you can get to know many Dutch artists.
Zwyczaje w Holandii Konninginnedag Zwyczaje w Holandii Konninginnedag

Customs in the Netherlands

If you are thinking about working in the Netherlands and staying longer and are tempted to experience a new culture, you will definitely not be bored there. In case you’re wondering what sports are particularly popular in the Netherlands, you can read about it here.