‘Act normal, then you are crazy enough’
After at least 5 hilarious moments with international friends about some typical Dutch things I realised we are not as normal as we think we are. Dutch people are known to be relaxed and direct. And of course about the fact that we shamelessly try to save money in every situation. But besides these characterial things we have many other traditions.
To start with our celebrations during the wintertime…
Sint Maarten – At November the 11th we celebrate the event Sint Maarten and thereby the end of autumn. As soon it gets dark children will walk the streets with their self made lampions or pumpkins. During this walk they need to ring the bell of their neighbours and sing a song in front of the door. If you sing the song well you receive some sweeties and repeat this door by door till you collect a bag full of sugar. Kids happy, moms less.
Sinterklaas – At December the 5th Sinterklaas and his helpers (Pieten) visit lots of families in the Netherlands. During this visit they leave a jute sack full with presents for the whole family in front of the door. But they will never show themselves to the children during this visit. Even if you don’t believe in the story anymore you can always celebrate Sinterklaas. Just throw a Sinterklaas-party for your friends with presents, lots of candy and teasing poems for each other.
Elfstedentocht – You may know we are the legends of every ice skating tournament over and over again. We Dutchies love ice skating and practise this for many years. It all started with the ‘Elfstedentocht’ (eleven-cities-tour); a ice skating tour of 200 km. The Elfstedentocht crosses eleven cities in the province Friesland and will be organised every year if the ice is thick enough. The last Elfstedentocht found place in 1997, but every winter many people hope for a follow-up.
Nieuwjaarsduik – At the 1st of January we start our year fresh with a dive in the sea. The sea is way too cold, but it didn’t scare people off to join this strange tradition every year again! Every year the beanies are sponsored by Unox, the supplier of our famous sausages.
To end with some food traditions where many international are making fun of…
Patatje Oorlog – Patatje oorlog literally means fries at war. In practice they’re delicious fries with peanut sauce,mayonnaise and fresh onions. We love it, internationals (mostly) hate it. Still, you should absolutely give a try!
Food from the Wall – Probably you were a bit surprised the first time you noticed a wall filled with snacks behind little windows. The idea is simple: Why wait for food if you can have it directly?! You can get our famous ‘Kroket’ or ‘Frikandel’ in not even 5 seconds! Although not the best quality I’m afraid.
Poffertjes – Poffertjes are the very little version of pancakes made with yeast and buckwheat flour. These tasty treats are prepared using a special pan with several shallow indentations in the bottom to hold the batter and make perfectly puffed small pancakes. Traditionally you eat the Poffertjes with powdered sugar and butter.
Beschuit met Muisjes – When there is a newborn, we celebrate it with a round toast with sugary sprinkles. In Dutch they are ‘muisjes’ which means little mice. Muisjes are made of aniseeds with a colored outer layer. Pink ones for a girl, blue for a boy.
Stamppot – Stamppot is a mash of cooked vegetables and potatoes. Ideally you eat this dish with a smoked sausage or when you are vegetarian a vegetarian sausage. In the middle of the stamppot you create a hole for the gravy.
Oliebollen with New Year – An oliebol is a deep-fried ball made from yeast flour, natural or with raisins. You eat them wrapped in powdered sugar.
Drop – Well known as liquorice. We are the proud founders of this candy and we love it. You can get it in different flavours such as salmiak, salt or sweet. It’s a worth a try and a great souvenir to give your loved ones when you’re heading back home.
These examples are just a short list of all the traditions we have. I’m sure you will find out a lot more by yourself. 🙂