The Netherlands isn’t the biggest in the world, but some of their weird Dutch habits are familiar around the globe.
1. Telling you how much they paid for something
When or if you compliment a Dutchie on their clothes, a simple thank you is often not the only response you’ll get. The Dutch love to share the price of the stuff you compliment them on.
The Dutch are famous for their penny-pinching. They love getting a good discount or deal for the things they buy. This penny-pinching is also the reason why they like to tell you how much their stuff costs. Even if you didn’t ask them for the price of said item.
You probably didn’t want this information, and you probably don’t know how to respond to it either. A quick tip: say “Oh wow” and then continue your conversation as nothing happened.
2. Congratulate a person for someone else’s birthday
Dutch birthdays are celebrated uniquely. When Dutchies come together for a birthday, they sit together in a circle, eat cheese, cold sausage, pickles and other delicious snacks you probably wouldn’t serve at home.
On these kinds of birthdays, there’s no music, and everyone will talk about their work, relationships, and the weather. But the weirdest thing is that when you enter the party, you have to congratulate everyone with the birthday of the birthday boy or girl.
For instance, you’ll have to congratulate the mother, father, uncle, aunt, cousins, and friends with the birthday of their relative. If you don’t know what to talk about on an awkward Dutch birthday party, talk about the weather. As you can read in the next paragraph, Dutchies love to talk about the weather.
3. Mashing of food
Dutch people love to mash up their food. They like to mix and mash everything into one big blend. Their favorite mashed dish contains potatoes, meat and vegetables. The Dutchies started doing this a long time ago. Vincent van Gogh even created a painting about this habit, “De Aardappeleters”, which translates to the potato eaters. Dutch people still mash their food up until this day.
One of their most famous dishes named ‘Stamppot’ is made by mashing potatoes together with meat and vegetables like kale. The name ‘Stamppot’ literally translates to the mashed pot. They prepare this dish by making a hole in the middle of their mashed potatoes and then fill it with gravy and add meat and vegetables like kale. Then the mashing begins with either a fork or a Dutch kitchen tool called an ‘Aardappelstamper’.
Don’t let the prospect of having to eat ‘Stamppot’ every night when you’re in the Netherlands scare you though. You can get lots of different kinds of foods in the Netherlands. Most restaurants in the Netherlands don’t even serve authentic Dutch meals.
If you think eating potatoes mashed with vegetables and meat is as weird as it gets in the Netherlands, you’ll be surprised by the next strange Dutch habit.
4. Complaining about the weather
When Dutch people don’t know what to talk about anymore, they’ll often start to talk about the weather. They can keep on talking about this subject for an infinite amount of time.
This is because Dutch people think the weather is never good, great or excellent. The weather is always too hot, cold, wet, dry, or windy. Truth be told, the Dutch are very dependent on the weather because they cycle everywhere.
5. Cycling as if it’s second nature
In the Netherland, people probably cycle more than anywhere in the world. They bike to their work or when they need to do some errands. In big cities like Amsterdam or Utrecht, almost everything is done by bike.
Because the Netherlands isn’t a big country, everything is close by. Depending on where you are, you can usually drive through the Netherlands by car in three to four hours. Going by car is often more expensive, takes longer and you can’t always reach everything as easily.
Cycling in other countries is often done with a bike helmet and a proper outfit on. But in the Netherlands, the Dutch people frown upon people who wear bike helmets. Dutch people usually wear their regular clothes and no helmets when they’re biking. Even most children don’t wear helmets when cycling in the Netherlands.
The Dutch are so used to biking everywhere that it has become second nature to them. You’ll also often see multiple people on one bike. For example, when a father or mother bike their spouse to school, their children are on the back or front of the bike.
6. Eating salty licorice
Dutch people’s mouths water when they start thinking about salty licorice. The Dutch name for salty licorice is drop. Be careful when Dutch people offer you drop. You think the look and taste may be something you recognize from something back home.
But the taste is totally different. Most people who aren’t Dutch are horrified with the taste of drop. And don’t be fooled by the name sweet licorice. Because it’s probably saltier than the salty licorice back home. Licorice isn’t the only thing that’ll alarm you but not the Dutch.
7. Ignoring the Emergency Alarm
When living in the Netherlands, you’ll probably hear other sounds then that you’re used to back home. But there’s perhaps one sound that will confuse you the most.
The emergency alarm that’s tested every first Monday of the month at 12:00 p.m. There are over 4.200 air sirens installed in the whole country, and they all go off at the same time. But don’t worry, they just do this to test their alarms.
In addition to hearing the air sirens go off, you may receive an NL-Alert message on your mobile phone. This is accompanied by an unusual ringtone and vibrations on your phone. So, if you hear the air sirens go off on the first Monday of the month at 12 p.m. just act like a Dutchie and keep on walking or working like nothing is happening.
Remember the Dutch are very sober people. In the Netherlands, they say: “Doe maar normaal, dan doe je al gek genoeg”. This translates as: if you act normal, you’re already acting crazy enough.