15 Things I never did until I lived in The Netherlands

1. Called people a whore (to their face). Ja, hoor!” “Nee, hoor!” “Momentje, hoor!” 3 months in, it still makes me chuckle every time.

2. Arrived at a party at 2pm and left at 6pm. It’s not strange at all to set a time when everyone has to leave your birthday party. (Could it have something to do with the fact that it’s the birthday boy or girl’s job to buy all of the food & drinks for the occasion?) Work in an office? You’ll also need to buy cake for the whole workforce.

3. Electrical work. Most rented Dutch houses/apartments come without light fittings… so you call an electrician, right? Wrong. You save money and risk your life by doing it yourself… no biggie 😉

4. Looked into other people’s houses… curtains are a rarity here, let alone net curtains! Nose away!

5. Cycled, everywhere! Just do it.


6. Accepted ice cream topping as a breakfast food. Hagelslag (chocolate or sugar sprinkles) on bread (normally with lashings of butter). I still don’t do that shit… I’ll stick to my marmite, thanks!

7. Ate FrikandelNever again.

8. Ate hot food from a vending machine. The Dutch love all things deep-fried and hate queuing. A chain of fast food restaurants called FEBO solves these two problems in one, with their vending machine walls! More about Dutch deep-fried snacks.

Febo, Utrecht

Febo, Utrecht

9. Understood the difference between Holland and The Netherlands (but still say Holland). Hup Holland Hup. Case closed.

10. Called Boxing day “second Christmas Day” and Easter Monday “second Easter Day”. (Tweede Kerstdag and Tweede Paasdag.) Hell, why make up words when you can be super efficient and just add a 2 on the end? Similarly, the word for animals = dieren, pet = huisdieren (house animals). Is it actually super efficient though, or could someone not be bothered to come up with more words?

11. The lekker hand sign. Eaten something delicious? Frantically wave your hand at your own face. Read more about the Lekker hand sign.

12. Owned orange clothing. King’s Day, football matches, other sporting events… it’s a must. Dress head-to-toe in orange. The sillier the better.

Our King's Day accessories box.

Our King’s Day accessories box. Every proud Dutchie has their own orange collection.

13. Said kunt  without getting a bar of soap down my throat. (This actually happened, circa 1992. Bite marks in the soap after I used my “new-swear-word-of-choice” very loudly at my annoying younger brother. Of course, my Mum was standing behind me. Fail.) Anyway, here you can say… Je kunt  (You can) Kunt u?  (Can you? formal) and my personal favourite Kies mijn kant  (Choose my side) without so much as a bat of the eyelid.

14. Heard “fuck” on the radio at 9am. Swearing just doesn’t have the same power here. Motherfucker, Fuck You, Fuck Off: unlikely to cause any offence. Similarly, songs with swearing aren’t “bleeped” out like in the UK… There’s no Cee Lo Green – Forget You, it’s Fuck You. Same goes for Lily Allen. Really want to insult a Dutch person? Tell them they have cancer… horrible… but that’s Dutch profanity for you.

15. Had a calendar in my BATHROOM. Weird, freaky or just super-sensible? Where else in the house do you have time to sit and “do nothing”? Read more about Bathroom Calendars.

What have I missed? Anything else you’ve noticed about the freaky deaky Dutchies you’d like to add to this list?

Hayley x

You may also like:

25 Dutch Dingen – like Dutch bingo, but better! How many can you cross off the list?!

30 Amusing Dutch Words – do you know your boterham from your eekhoorntjesbrood?


  1. How’s about fries with mayo and haring with onions. I’m American living in Holland for 4.5 years now and never tried either those before I came here. what about potato and andijve stampot with sausage bacon and gravy. hutspot. hmmm thats all I got for now 😉


    1. I lived for 24yrs in Nederland, the most boring food in the world, nothing that even resembles a pie, sauzijzen broodjes…Yuk!


      1. The pie revolution is starting. It began on Amstelveen market with ‘The Pieman” (four euros+ per pie, fancy flavours) as late as last week, we found some real steak and ale pies at the local Keurslagers.


      2. Agree completely on the part of food. Just lack the variety, flavour and taste, sandwiches, mashed potatoes, and…is there anything else? 😛


  2. Hi! This made me laugh and crying at the same time. Ahhhh, I left NL a month ago and am missing it! You should have put: Healthy breakfast as well. I forget the term for it. It is normally a mandatory for a kid that you have to eat bread with something ‘healthy’ first with (such as ham, cheese, pate, salami, etc) and then you can eat something ‘unhealthy’ (such as hagelslag, stroop, jam, etc).

    Liked by 1 person

      1. But do you understand why parents say this? The answer is in the weather specially in winter the first slice of bread is meant to build resistance to the cold frosty weather, at least it was generations like that.


    1. Hey Maria! Just helping you out: first a boterham with hartig (ham/cheese/etc.), then you can have one with “zoet” (hagelslag/Nutella/etc.). Never realized that’s typically Dutch, ha!


  3. You ou forgot the hearing……….

    And……….1500 things i never did before I was married to a British gril (lady?), for instance driving on the other side of the road…….. going to the pub, not to have fun but for getting totally passed as quick as possible……… bring my own drinks to a Indian restaurant and pay for uncorking the bottle……… being hypocritical about issues like sex……….. the tabloids………..

    And no, I am not Dutch.


  4. Oh, by the way, my good friend is called Cock (Cornelis), his bosses name is Dick, and there was a very famous football player who is called Willy (van de Kerkhof)…………….

    Liked by 1 person

        1. Don’t make fun of names…they are cultural and Dutch….and OK. My best friend was Joke, and a sweet person. So sad that we think we are right and everyone else is wrong, or different.


  5. Am dutch but moved to the uk about 4 years ago and it’s soo true. Love the lekker hand sign. as just sitting at the table showing the sign to a mate. Gave me a right funny look haha 😛
    But here nobody even seems to know when it’s your birthday even when you told them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Birthdays are no big thing in the UK, I was surprised that such a fuss is made of them here, adults talk about their birthday plans months in advance. It’s mine on Monday and people keep asking me if I am celebrating, too close to Christmas for my liking!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’d add that a chef in the Netherlands is called a “kok”, and a boss is a “chef”, so in my profession I’m called a “chef kok” !


  7. Odd in Dutchland: Between the sweets in the supermarket: Dropknikkers (liquorice marbles). Ex Prime Minister: Wim Kok. Gravy with a quarter inch of fat floating on top. The impossible to translate ‘koffiedrinken’ and ‘gezellig’. We all love koffiedrinken! On the other hand: I’ve lived in England (I’m Dutch) for 4 years and the English have their share of oddities themselves as you all know 😉 Live and let live!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Go to a birthday party and have to eat dinner at your own home. The Dutch serve snacks at their parties. So you go back hungry from a party!!!
    I can’t get it in my head! !

    Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL, coolchic, you need to go to an “indo” party, you won’t leave the house without gaining 10 pounds! They don’t just serve kaas blokjes & worst, you get tables full of yummy indonesian food. LEKKER!! 🙂


  9. Funny, my Italian in-laws also do this “lekker” gesture when something is really tasty (they don’t say lekker of course, more like “mmm buono” or the equivalent ;-)…wonder who started it first??

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hahaha, this is so funny. I’m Dutch and think wave to your ear is just normal when you like the food….now I’m living in the States And when I exedently want to do that, i close my hand and put up my thumb very quickly so nobody notice…..i hope , i smile a lot whith it. Hahaha

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I didn’t read about our famous ‘Bitterbal’ or ‘kroket’. Didn’t you try them?
    You also didn’t mention us drinking black tea or fruit-flavoured teas. Pity.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Times were what got me in the beginning, “I’ll be there in the morning” me: “at what time?” “coffee time” at lunch time, at tea time, at borrel time, dinner time then coffee time again and then “naar de Koffie” I had to keep asking other people not wanting to look stupid.

      I loved bitterballen until I had them cooked in luke warm fat and that was the end of it, I know what is in Frikandellen so would not dream of eating one.

      I love the Netherlands and could never move back to the UK, they have their funny little ways but don’t we all?

      What does make me laugh is the remarks about the English kitchen and not good ones but the British cookery programmes are really popular here and the Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsey, Nigella Lawson, etc, etc, books fly off the shelves so we must be doing something right.

      I love waving at my ear especially to children sitting in a push chair eating, they always smile!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. For a birthday, you always sit in ‘een kring’. You shake hands to other visitors and you give 3 kisses. Sitting in a circle is funny, it looks like you are attending a session in a hospital….

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Saying Gefeliceteerd (Congratulations) to everyone attending a birthday party. I was so shocked when I attended a Dutch guys birthday and didn’t have a clue why people congratulated me.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. no one talks about de beautiful flowers who comes in de keukenhof. If you went there you can see all kinds of people coming there to enjoy the paece and all loved the park with beautiful flowers (tulps). Go there if you are in holland.


    1. The Keukenhof is a dream for garden and flower lovers, we go every year and would not miss it for the world, it is only open for six weeks and it is cheaper to buy tickets online, it also saves queuing.


  15. Aaaaaargh… not Holland! Please, do not refer to our country as Holland ever, ever again. It’s The Netherlands, period.
    I don’t shout “Hup Holland hup” or wear orange clothing. Ever.


  16. Netherlands is such a great country. People are …. they are just fantastic. Moving to another country might be a great adventure, though. y goal was to complete my Master’s degree in Netherlands. I am almost ready 🙂 Thank you for sharing your article. Greets!


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