Dutch traditions and customs

What traditions and customs are there in the Netherlands?

Holland (Netherlands) is the cradle of ancient traditions and customs.


Food in daily life

The Netherlands does not have a distinct culinary culture due to its Protestant ethnicity and the absence of a strong culinary tradition at court due to the emphasis on Calvinist sobriety. Food is seen as a necessary part of life, with no need for luxury.

Traditional foods include split pea soup, kale stew, cod, white asparagus, chips with mayonnaise, meat croquettes and raw herring.

In the morning, the Dutch consume various sandwiches with cheese, peanut butter or chocolate chips. Lunch consists of sandwiches, often with cold cuts and perhaps a small salad on the side. Usually served between 5 and 7 p.m., dinner is a two- or three-course meal that often begins with soup.

The main course usually contains a mixture of potatoes with vegetables and meat, fish or poultry, and is followed by dessert. ChineseIndonesian, Surinamese and Italian food has become part of the Dutch diet.

Food customs on ceremonial occasions

The Dutch almost never invite people to dinner with whom they do not have a close relationship. Instead, coffee has a strong social meaning.

Neighbors often invite each other over for a cup of coffee with the invariable cookie, and the morning coffee break at work is a sacred institution. Drinking coffee The rituals reveal the central meaning of the crucial Dutch word gezelligheid (“cozy”, “sociable” or “pleasant”).


Most features of Dutch etiquette resemble those of the rest of the Western world, but there are several national codes of conduct that set them apart. The Dutch shake hands when they meet and leave or, in the case of women and more well-known men and women, kiss each other three times on the cheek.

The Dutch have a strong desire to organize their time in agendas and calendars. Dutch children are given their first planner in primary school to write down scheduled lessons and assignments.

A full schedule means a full life. The Dutch are very punctual, and being five minutes late is considered inappropriate. As a result, everything has to be done at fixed times: There is a time to work, a time to clean the house, a time to drink coffee, and a time to visit friends.

The Dutch don’t queue and hardly take a person’s status, gender or age into account in public. The use of the formal “you” (“U”) to address a person is becoming less common, while the growing importance of the informal “you” (“jij)” is intended to illustrate a commitment to equality.


Religious beliefs

The largest religious congregation in the Netherlands is Catholic (30 percent of the population), followed by Protestant Reformed (14 percent), Dutch Reformed (7 percent), and Muslim (4 percent). More surprising, however, is the fact that 40 percent of the population is neither religious nor connected to a denomination.

The extremely rapid secularization of the Netherlands after the 1960s has meant that religion plays less and less of a role in ordering people’s social and cultural lives, with the notable exception of the small rural communities in the Belt. Biblical Dutch, which extends throughout the cities of Zierikzee, Dordrecht, Utrecht, Zwolle and Assen.

Among the 60 percent who profess to be religious, a growing group do not actively participate in religious ceremonies or are involved in New Age religions.

Religious practitioners

Religious practitioners (priests, ministers and imams) belong to the main religions in the Netherlands. The Roman Catholic ecclesiastical authority is represented by bishops who try to influence national debates on the family, social welfare, abortion and euthanasia.

Rituals and Holy Places

The Catholic south of the Netherlands is rich in annual religious processions, some of which date back to the Middle Ages, such as the blood processions in Boxtel and Boxmeer, both in the province of North Brabant. Sanctuaries include those of St. Gerard in Wittem and the Onze Lieve Vrouwekerk in Masatricht.

Death and the afterlife

Beliefs about death and life after death correspond to the doctrines of the main religions. The deceased is buried in a cemetery or cremated in a cremation center. All burials and cremations are organized by professional undertakers.

Secular celebrations

Carnival celebrations the weekend before Ash Wednesday have become secular festivities that are rapidly spreading from the Catholic south to the Protestant north. The symbolic celebration of the Queen’s birthday (Queen’s Day) takes place on April 30.

Although Queen Beatrix was born on January 31, the festivities are held on former Queen Juliana’s birthday. On May 4, Remembrance Day, the remembrance of the Dutch victims of World War II is celebrated. The nation observes a minute of silence at 8 p.m. to commemorate the dead.

On May 5, Liberation Day is celebrated, the end of the German occupation in 1945. Most of the big cities organize festivals and music festivals. Family and friends exchange gifts on the eve of St. Nicholas Day (December 5), while children receive gifts on their birthdays (December 6).

On New Year’s Eve, the Dutch reflect on the year that has passed and gather with friends rather than family. The new year is welcomed with champagne and fireworks, and resolutions are made.

Arts and Humanities

Arts support

Art academy graduates receive a four-year stipend of approximately 455 euros ($525) per month to begin a professional art career. Additionally, various public and private foundations provide modest funding for artists. An important source of support is works of art for public places commissioned by national, provincial and local governments.


Dutch oral literature dates back to at least 500 BCE The first written Dutch literature dates back to the mid-200s with the songs of the troubadour Heynric van Veldeken.

The works on the history of the world and the lives of the saints written in verse by Jacob van Maerlant (1230-1300) mark the beginning of a truly national literature. Dutch literature flourished during the Renaissance with playwrights such as Hooft, Cats, Huygens, Bredero, and Joost van den Vondel (1587-1679).

Dutch literature entered a period of relative decline after the 17th century, only to rise to world stature in the mid-19th century with the publication of Max Havelaar de Multatuli (a pseudonym for Eduard Douwes Dekker), describing the colonial exploitation of the Dutch. Dutch Indies.

The Eighties Movement (1880-1894), led by the poets Kloos and Gorter, marked a new era in Dutch literature. The novels of Louis Couperus were the apotheosis of national literature.

The breadth of twentieth-century Dutch literature is enormous; Slauerhoff, Roland Holst, Bordewijk and Vestdijk are the most important authors of the interwar period. The major post-World War II poets and writers are Lucebert, Kouwenaar, Vroman, Haasse, Mulisch, Hermans, Reve, Wolkers, Nooteboom, and Van der Heijden.

Graphic arts

Contemporary Dutch graphic arts have been dominated by the legacy of the 17th century with its emphasis on painting, drawing and printmaking. The masterpieces of Dutch painting are exhibited at the Rijksmuseum (Rembrandt and Vermeer), the Van Gogh Museum and the Stedelijk Museum (contemporary art) in Amsterdam.

In addition, there are important collections in the Kröller-Muller Museum (Impressionism, Expressionism) in Otterloo and in the Haags Gemeentemuseum (Mondrian) and the Mauritshuis (Rembrandt and Vermeer) in The Hague.

The museums are mainly visited by the middle and upper classes, with the exception of the large retrospectives of popular painters such as Vermeer, Rembrandt and Van Gogh, which attract a wide audience.

Performing arts

Classical music (especially the Concertgebouw Orchestra) and ballet (the Dutch National Ballet and Dance Theatre) are major performing arts with international appeal. The cabaret has a long national tradition and is still popular.

The Utrecht Early Music Festival is known for its medieval and Renaissance music concerts. The North Sea Jazz Festival in The Hague is world famous. The Pinkpop and Low Lands festivals are two important events for popular music.

The Holland Festival in Amsterdam is the most important annual presentation of the new season of programming for contemporary Dutch performing arts. The performing arts mainly appeal to the middle and upper classes.

Share the customs and traditions of Holland.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button