10 Things You Never Knew About the Dutch

I am so excited today!  My parents live in the Netherlands.  They moved there about 4 years ago from Wisconsin and it has been 4 years of endless stories, beautiful pictures, and several visits.  My mum has been gracious enough to write a guest post about what she has learned about the Dutch and about the Netherlands.

In the following article, she brings us 10 facts about the Netherlands and the Dutch that she’s learned in her time there.  I hope you enjoy! 

Windmills at Kinderdijk
Dutch Windmills at Kinderdijk

Hello!  My name is Cheri.  I moved to a town in the province of Friesland with my husband about 4 years ago.  Before we arrived, we took several weeks of Dutch integration classes so we would have an easier time fitting into the new culture.  However, no amount of integration classes can prepare you for what it’s really like to move to a foreign country!  Over the years, I have learned very specific things about the Dutch.  We love living here.  The scenery is amazing, the culture is wonderful, and we really don’t have any complaints.  We hope we can continue living here as long as possible!  The following are 10 things I’ve learned about the Dutch in my time here in the Netherlands.  Please enjoy reading and I hope some of these things make you laugh.

  1. The Dutch are very stingy and frugal (ever wonder where the phrase “Going Dutch” came from?).  They will not easily treat other people.  The check each and every receipt-even to the point of arguing with the cashier at the register.  On holidays, they have been known to bring their own food so as not to have to spend money.  Yet, when it comes to giving to charities, they are ranked #7 in the world in amount donated.
  2. There are bikes EVERYWHERE!  They are more bikes, fiet, than there are people.  There are hundreds of kilometers of bike roads around the country.  There are over 18 million bicycles in the Netherlands.  Cycling under the influence is an offense just like driving under the influence.  There are over 35,000 kilometers of cycle paths and the government spends more than 400 million Euro on infrastructure.
    Bikes parked outside of a wine tasting.
    Bikes parked outside of a wine tasting.  And a sign written in Dutch.
  3. Mashed food-they love their mashed foods.  Stamppot is a traditional dish with various vegetables mashed together with a sausage on top.
  4. Curtains are wide open-the Dutch have a sense of openness.  We were told, in the old days, the Priest would walk the streets and if curtains were closed, the priest would knock and check on the residents.
  5. Nose picking!  It is not uncommon to see this behavior while out and about in public, it is very acceptable.  Sitting at a stop light or driving down the road, it is not so unusual to see someone just digging away!  It’s very difficult to not stare!
  6. The Dutch are very direct.  You never have to worry about what they are thinking, they will tell you.  It can come across as rude, shocking, and insulting, but it’s just straightforwardness.  They value honest and sincerity.  During Thanksgiving (American Holiday), I went into the liquor store to buy some sherry for a recipe.  The clerk was asking what I was making and that it was for Thanksgiving.  I told him about the Mayflower and the Native Americans sharing the food with the settlers.  His comment after he thought for a few minutes was “Oh so you celebrate that the Native Americans saved your lives so you could turn around and take theirs and their land?”  I had nothing to say after that!
  7. The Dutch know how to control water.  At least 25% of the country is below sea level with another 50% less than a meter (3.28 feet) above sea level.  Canal levels are very controlled across the country and are pumped on a regular basis.  There are Sea Gates that close automatically if storm surges are over 3 meters.
    The Sea Gate-open
    The Sea Gate-open
  8. The Netherlands is known for tulips, however, the tulip did not originate here.  The first tulips were imported from Turkey and thrived in the Dutch soil.  In the spring time, driving along the highways, you will see fields of bright colors.  If you get off the main roads and explore, you can get out and walk among the tulips, daffodils, and other bright flowers.  The colors and the scents are incredible-as if the whole country has been painted!
    Beautiful Tulips
    Beautiful Tulips
    Dare to Be Different
    Dare to Be Different
    Fields of color.
    Fields of color.
  9. Holland and the Netherlands are not synonymous.  Holland is a large section, or province, of the country in the western coastal region.
  10. Coffee shops do not serve just coffee in Amsterdam.  They serve marijuana in the form of baked goods or smoking.  You don’t normally see Dutch people getting high, but you will definitely see foreigners-mostly British, Americans and Germans.


Now you’ll be prepared for those Dutch quirks when you plan your next travel to the Netherlands!  I hope you enjoyed this guest post.  Look forward to another one about the Netherlands coming up soon!!!

Luckily, living in the Netherlands has given mum great opportunity for travel, and I do hope she will continue to grace us with more travel posts from her European adventures!