Dutch culture

Famous for its windmills and fondness of clogs, the Dutch have long been renowned as a culturally liberal and tolerant people. Holland is known worldwide for its tolerant attitude and the aspects of this most visible to outsiders are the open attitude to sex and the widespread availability of soft drugs. Typically, the Dutch have turned both of these into money-spinning industries.

The main language is Dutch but West Frisian is recognised as a secondary language and is used by the government in Friesland. The Netherlands was formally a catholic nation but due to the Dutch revolt in the 1500’s and the eighty years war it became a protestant nation following Calvinism.

In the late 16th century, many painters from Flanders fled to the Northern Netherlands, for religious reasons and because the Netherlands were growing economically. Both regions had a golden age of painting in this period. The most famous Dutch painter was Rembrandt but modern day Dutch artists are less well-known.

Many UK expats can find the Dutch to be rude because of their direct nature and unwillingness to form queues. In fact, they have a highly ritualised system of social etiquette which takes time and effort to learn. Dutch people routinely wish each other a pleasant day, afternoon, evening, weekend and the like; these greetings carry a lot more sincerity than the American ‘have a nice day’. No quarter is given to foreign residents who do not follow these rules or appear reluctant to adapt.

The Dutch love to eat out and they enjoy visiting bars and cafes; cinemas are also popular. They are keen on sport and fitness, music, social clubs and organised events. They also love flowers and fill their homes with house plants.

National Public Holidays

As well as the usual holidays in the Western world the Dutch have a few of their own unique ones.

April 30th- Queens Day or Koninginnedag

This day is used to celebrate the birthday of the Queen. Today it commemorates the birth of the late Queen mother.

May 5th – Liberation Day or Bevrijdingsdag

This day celebrates the 1945 surrender of German forces in World War Two and the liberation of the nation. Since 2000 this day is commemorated every five years instead of every one.

Other holidays are similar to those found in the UK except in Holland they are not classed as bank holidays and it is up to employers to grant their workers the day off.