Almost every country and especially cultures have its own traditions. The Netherlands is not to be excluded from this list as we have some unique ones of our own. The traditions are all a part of what makes The Netherlands special and the Dutchies stand out.
What are the top 5 Dutch traditions? The top 5 traditions are; Celebrating Kingsday, eating Dutch treats, attending the Nijmeegse vierDaagse, cycling, and participating in the traditional three-kiss greeting.
Maybe you have already heard about a few of these traditions but maybe you haven’t. The Dutch have many more traditions than these 5, but this will give you a bit of an idea about the Dutch culture. Below we will dive a bit deeper into what our traditions are and how they came about. Interested in learning about them? Keep on reading!
top 5 dutch traditions
1. Celebrating Kingsday
The Netherlands is one of the few countries that still has a king and queen in place. If you were to ask around, most Dutch people will speak highly of them. Once a year on the King’s birthday (April 27th), everyone turns up to the city wearing orange. Why Orange? Because it is the color that represents the Netherlands. In all the cities and towns throughout the Netherlands, people sit on a rug or behind small market stalls selling goods. Anyone who has things lying around the house or upstairs in the attic that they don’t use anymore, is able to sell them on the streets on this day.
Apart from the Netherlands turning completely orange, and people selling second-hand items, there is also time for celebration. There is live music and drinking options everywhere throughout the city and its parks, and you will notice immediately that everyone is enjoying this day off. If you want to attend a true Dutch tradition then I would recommend you to visit the Netherlands on the 27th of April. Keep in mind that there are lots of people and it is crowded everywhere, so make sure to book your accommodation on time!
2. Eating Dutch treats
Like many countries, The Netherlands is famous for several kinds of treats. Below we have named a few.
–Stroopwafels are waffles with caramel syrup. The 2 waffles are very thin & crunchy, and they are layered on top of each other like a sandwich. The caramel sits in the middle. This is a definite go-to for all the “sweet tooths” among us.
This is a fish that we eat raw with a few raw onions and/or pickles on the top. Traditionally, the head is already cut off and all you need to do is hold the fish at its tail and let it slip into your mouth. Sort of like the Dutch version of sashimi? You can find herring at a fishmonger and inside little stalls around the cities. The Netherlands is surrounded by water so if you stop at a harbor you are almost always certain to find someone selling herring for you to try.
–biscuit with mice
I know what you might be thinking, do Dutchies eat mice? No, they don’t! Biscuit with mice is a thick cracker with sweet sprinkles on top. The sweet sprinkles are called mice. You can buy the mice in either the color pink with white, or blue with white. When a baby is born, the parents traditionally serve their guests a “beschuit met muisjes”. If the baby is a girl you will get the pink and white variant of sprinkles, if it’s a boy it will be the blue with white version.
–Oliebollen are traditionally eaten the day before and the night of New Year. They are nothing more than a ball of dough, that is deep-fried and topped off with powder sugar. Optional is that the dough includes raisins ( we recommend you try that version).
Speculaas is a biscuit made with certain spices. You can find the speculaas spices in supermarkets and shops all over the Netherlands. Speculaas cookies or biscuits come in many different shapes, and sizes, and even with different sorts of filling.
Drop is also known as liquorish because it’s made out of liquorish. Liquorish and sugar are added together to make it into a sweet treat. Liquorish can also be found in many shapes, sizes, and even tastes. In the Netherlands we enjoy salty- to sour-tasting liquorish.
Last on this list but definitely not least, is hagelslag. Hagelslag is small rectangular chocolate sprinkles that we like to eat for breakfast on a piece of toast with butter. We see it as a “sweet” way start to the day!
3. Attending the Nijmegen Vierdaagse
The Dutch are known to be active and athletic. The Nijmegen Vierdaagse is a good example of this. Mid- July, around 45.000 participants from over 70 different nationalities attend this walking event. You can choose to walk either 30, 40, or 50 kilometers in the span of 4 days. The walk was intended to promote sports and exercise and has grown into a huge tradition that most Dutchies have attended at least once in their life.
When you think about the Netherlands, most people will think about bicycles. Bicycles are the number one way of transportation in the Netherlands. It is probably safe to say that every citizen owns at least one bike. It is said to believe that there are more bicycles in the Netherlands than there are people living in it. There are lanes in the Netherlands specifically made for cyclers to use so that they don’t get in the way of pedestrians or cars. Traditionally, kids are brought to school on bikes. These bikes are called: “bakfiets”. So if you ever see kids sitting in the front of a bike in a cargo-like seat, don’t worry, it is safe!
5. three kisses greetings
One last tradition that I think is fun to know if you intend to visit the Netherlands is the “three kiss greeting.” Where other countries shake hands or greet each other with a hug, we Dutchies like to go a bit more intimate straight off the bat. We do this by greeting someone with three kisses. Starting with the right cheek, left cheek, and again right cheek. The only exception is when two men greet each other. This is often through a formal handshake with no kisses involved.
Some Final Thoughts About Dutch Traditions I hope you now have a better understanding of Dutch traditions and that you liked reading the article. As mentioned before, these are only some of the traditions that make The Netherlands stand out. However, there are many more that make a visit to the Netherlands worth your while.
We are interested to hear what traditions you have participated in or which ones you would like to atten