12 Loco Things Dutchies Do Part 1

This month I celebrate that I’ve been living in The Netherlands for two years. It’s the third country I have lived in and the third one I call home. Before NL I lived in Germany, so I thought I didn’t need to integrate or learn about the culture anymore. I genuinely thought that Dutchies are similar to my last homies, the Germans. These two years have totally shown me the opposite. With you, today, I want to share the things Dutch people do that I haven’t seen people doing in any other place I’ve lived before. Get ready!

1. Three kisses
Dutch people greet with three kisses. I had to get used to that. But it get’s even more confusing when after you gain some trust with the person you greet, three kisses will eventually turn into one. This makes you feel totally weird because you finally got used to the three kisses. I know my in-laws for seven years now, and it still doesn’t get less awkward.

2. Congratulations to everyone! 
When someone of your family or friends celebrates his birthday, not only the birthday person gets congratulated, all the family members as well! Please note that only the birthday person will get a present and not you.. 🙂

3. Boterham
Instead of just calling it a sandwich, in NL there is one right word to name the piece of bread you eat during breakfast or lunch.. ‘Boterham’! The Dutchies take the word very serious because they spread butter on the boterham before any other spread comes over it. So here is how it goes: Bread + butter + Nutella. Or, bread + butter + jam. Or, bread + butter + peanut butter, bread + butter + hagelslag… You get the point?


4. Werkse, sterkte, sportse!
Dutch people are very kind. So kind that they have a word to wish you a good day at work: werkse! A good day at the gym: sportse! A good day when you are feeling sad or sick: sterkte.

5. The cheaper, the better
If you ever give a nice compliment about a piece of clothing or accessory to a Dutch person, they don´t only thank you for that. As well they will answer you with pride that they bought it on sale for 70% less of the price. Oh! how they love to show you they made a cheap deal..!

6. Names
Gijs, Thijs, Tijn, Matthijs, Stijn, Marijn, Merijn, Martijn, Tijmen, Jasmijn, Gert, Meike, Verlee, Kaj, Joost, Koen… Odds are that if you don´t speak Dutch, you are pronouncing them all wrong! Dutch parents like to give their kid names that are very hard to pronounce for non-Dutch speakers. On top of that, some kids have two names. A real name and a ‘roep’name”. Example: His real name is Gerrit but the name of how to call him is Gert… Say Whut!?

7. The weather
It is very common to see these highlights in the news: ‘today is the coldest/warmest day ever since… last month?’, “Today a heavy storm is coming to the coast, code red everyone! The storm will last two minutes. Better be safe!” Everyone in The Netherlands loves the news about the weather. Better yet, they all know everything about it, thanks to the app: Buienradar. On this app, they can see the exact time it will rain and for how long.  Can you imagine how I feel, when at 11 am the sun is shining, and then I hear my Dutch colleagues telling me “Oh but today there’s going to be a storm around 8 pm”. I think Dutch people secretly love the rain.

8. Biking to anywhere. Regardless the weather.
There is nothing that can stop Dutchies biking to work or school. Rain, snow, ice… Dutchies are unstoppable. My first surprise ever was back in 2013 when I did an internship in a design office in Amsterdam. It was the first rainy day since I started and while I was looking through the window, wondering if I should wait until the rain stops or go walking to work with an umbrella, the outside life looked as normal as ever. People wear their Hema rain suits, hop on the bike and off they go. Some even biked with an umbrella! I did go walking to work that day and when I arrived all my colleagues were soaking wet, hair all messy, jeans wet. But that´s not a reason to stop working. Just hang your wet jacket, shake your hair and the day can begin.
Oh, and the Dutchies are so handy with their bikes. Don´t be shocked to see how they bring their three kids to school on a bike, with the dog on the leash and while biking they are putting on their jackets! In the mean time, it still takes me five minutes to lock and unlock my bike.

Dutch weather
Ph: © 2011 – Bas de Meijer

9. Lekker
The favorite word of the Dutchies: ‘Lekker’. It means tasty, and mostly it refers to food, but Dutchies find some other things tasty as well. It´s common to hear:

– lekkere broodjes of soep (tasty sandwiches, soup – food related)
– lekker rustig (when it’s nice and quiet)
– lekker weer (when the weather is good, finally)
– niet lekker (when something is not tasty)
– slaap lekker (sweet dreams)
-lekker gezond (when something is healthy)
– lekker ruim (when a place is spacious)
– lekker biertje (when they drink the first beer of the weekend)
– lekker! (the answer when someone asks if you want coffee. Please note: You never answer yes or no, you answer with lekker and always accept the coffee)

10. Coffee O´ Clock
Dutch people drink coffee ANYTIME, the WHOLE DAY and I am not exaggerating. The first coffee is in the morning, then in the middle of the morning, then after lunch, then 4ish, the last one is after dinner around 7pm or 8pm. To stimulate the amount of coffee they drink, the supermarkets dedicate one whole isle to cookies and taartjes! Most of these cookies are with butter and a looots of sugars, so I don´t eat them anymore, but before my vegan time my all-time favorite where the bokkenpootjes and gevulde koek. Oh and the stroopwafels and stroop cookies.


11. Fries are a Dutch´s best friend
The Netherlands biggest delicatessen is fries. You can eat them on the street, in fancy restaurants, at the beach and even during weddings. They sell fries at every train station, and on every ten meters of a city center in places called “Snack Bar”. What makes the patat so special is the way you can eat them. In a puntzak and with A LOT of sauce. And by sauce I mean mayonnaise. I never understood Pulp`s Fiction scene about The Netherlands until now. For your education: these are some toppings with the official names they use:

-Patat speciaal: Fries with mayo, ketchup, and onions
-Patat oorlog: Fries with peanut sauce, mayo, and onions (oorlog means war, I leave it to your imagination why they call it like this)
-Patat joppie: Fries with a secret sauce called: Joppie
-Patat met: Fries with mayonnaise unless you ask for another sauce like ketchup, curry, peanut sauce.
-Patat zonder: The least chosen one. These are fries without any sauce.

I have to admit, I used to find it too loco to eat fries with onions. The smell is truly awful, but after two years I have blended very well with the locals. Now I can enjoy a good puntzak of patat speciaal.

Patat speciaal

12. Wedding celebration of 12,5 years
Dutch people celebrate 12,5 years of marriage. Why? I don´t really understand. Where I am from, we celebrate complete years. 1, 5, 10 etc The first time I was invited to 12,5 years of marriage I thought it was a joke, but no, it´s a real thing to celebrate, and it´s actually a nice reason to get together (maybe that´s the reason?).

One more extra…
13. When a baby is born…
Not only your family gets the memo, but the whole street has to know that there is a new baby in the world. Parents go loco and decorate their house with blue or pink (depending on the sex of the baby) banners, balloons, an inflated stork and anything they can possibly find baby related. While in Colombia, when a baby is born, you call the parents, the grandparents and eventually go and visit the baby. In the Netherlands, the parents send birth cards to the whole family and friends. Normally the card shows the time and date of birth, the weight, the length (very important) and a picture of the baby. I can´t help but wonder when on earth do the parents have the time to do all this, while there is a newborn in the house?
If you got the birth card, that means you have to make space in your agenda to go visit the newborn (kraambezoek). During the kraambezoek you will get a treat from the parents: A biscuit with (of course) butter and little aniseed balls colored pink for a girl and blue for a boy. “Beschuit met muisjes” Oh! it makes the visit more gezellig and totally stress-free.



I´m going to leave the house birth, the haring, the real life doll when someone turns 50 and some more loco things for another post. For now, I can only say that even though the Dutch culture is different than mine, I have learned to like it and embrace it. Some things I find funny, other I really like and I´m learning from them.
Thanks to all the Dutchies that have embraced me and made me feel welcome in The Netherlands the past two years.

With love,


Read 12 loco things Dutchies do part 2

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129 thoughts on “12 Loco Things Dutchies Do Part 1

  1. Nice to read your post. In all the replies dutchies tell what to eat, what to do or visit and what not. Lots of advice, funny to read it as I’m Dutch too and recognize the way of living.


  2. Nice to read your post. In all the replies dutchies tell what to eat, what to do or visit and what not. Lots of advice, funny to read it as I’m Dutch too and recognize the way of living.


  3. In the old times people used to celibrate 25 year of marriage and 50 years. Indeed they want more parties, so they diivided 25 by 2 = 12.5 year.
    The word Patat Oorlog means Fries WAR. So many things on top that it seems to be a war.
    Lekker is also used to define a sexy woman. “Lekker wijf”


    1. And when you’re not feeling well / feeling sick: ik voel me niet lekker.

      When something frustrating happens to someone and we show empathy we say: lekker dan…

      When we find something not important: lekker belangrijk!

      When you’re feeling the vibe: lekker gaan

      I could go on for a while 😜 Same goes for ‘leuk’ and ‘gezellig’


    2. To continue “lekker” so lekker doorgaan:
      Zoek het lekker uit- you figure it out yourself aka “whatever”
      Lekker dan – disappointment
      Ga je lekker? – are you having fun or (!) wtf are you doing?
      Lekker wijf, lekker ding – sexy woman
      Lekker belangrijk – who cares

      Als interesting is “maar” aka but.
      Normal understanding is ” niet dit maar dat” – not his but that.
      Doe maar – go ahead
      Bekijk het maar – ala zoek het lekker uit – you figure it out / go f*** yourself
      Vergeet het maar – no way you are going to do that
      Zoek het maar lekker uit – see above with more cynicism
      Het doet maar een beetje pijn. It only hurts a little
      Also interesting, most nouns can be made small by adding “je” “tje” or “pje”
      Male/femalr niuns can be preceded by “de” aka the. By making it small it becones sexless automaticalky.
      De boom (the tree) -> het boompje (the small tree)
      Het huis (the house) -> het huisje (the tiny house)
      De jongen (the boy) -> het jongetje (the little boy)


    3. I’ve actually heard fries with peanut sauce, mayonnaise and onions were coincidentally introduced during the gulf war, hence the name


      1. Patatje Oorlog has been around for way longer than the Gulf War, so this is absolutely not true!
        Also where I come from Patat Oorlog is with mayo, ketchup, peanutsauce and onions… Mayo and peanutsauce is called Patat Flip. But apparently this varies in different parts of the country.


  4. Dear Alisson,

    Spot on! One minor detail is that ‘patat speciaal’ is often with curry instead of ketchup. Both are possible, but I believe (on the basis of the people that I know) that most Dutchies find the variant with curry ‘lekkerder’.😋


  5. Thanks for your great post. Im a crazy dutchie myself and laughed my ass off. Maybe its also fun to talk about the difference between Holland (North-Holland and South-Holland) and The Netherlands (the rest of the provinces) Did you know that only in the north of The Netherlands we have a special patat called raspatat in the rest of the country your not able to find it. Did you also try our dutch stamppot (mashed patatoes) and erwtensoep? Very popular here in wintertimes. And did u know that dutch dinner time is mostly always at 18:00? What i find crazy about our country is when there is something to celebrate that the orange army showed up. And did u ever ate oliebollen at the 31st of december? What i think is also typical dutch are our very steep stairs and very small toilets. Also very dutch our directness and usually being very down to earth. Drop is very dutch and we have it in all kinds of variations..


  6. That was a Nice read. And i must say: you have gotten to know The Netherlands and our habbits pretty Well!

    I can add Some typical Dutch things to the list:
    – we say ‘gezellig’. I dont know a good translation to this in any other language.
    – everybody basicely speak english everywhere.
    – we have snacks in a wall. You put a euro in and a kroket, frikandel or whatever comes out!
    – have you ever tried tompouce?
    – we eat boerenkool with aardappelen and worst and piccalilly. I believe boerenkool is seen as food for pigs in England? It is pretty lekker 😀.

    This is all i can think of right now. 🙂


    1. boerenkool, (curly) kale in english is very ‘hip’ these days and part of the healthy food stuff, in shakes etc. I’m glad I can still buy it here in UK for my occasional stamppot. 😀


  7. Friet speciaal is with curry, not ketchup, but yes also with onions and mayonnaise, so you only got the red sauce a bit wrong. And the beschuit met muisjes have white ‘mice’ as well as the coloured. Did you know they made a special edition when the king’s kids were born? Orange and white? Being an expat this is fabulous to read and omg so spot on!!


  8. One small addition (already well illustrated by the photo of ‘ boterhammen’) : The exception to the rule of always buttering bread before putting a topping on it, is CHEESE.
    Cheese should never be put on a buttered slice of bread or bun. The expression goes: ‘Zuivel op zuivel dat haalt je de duivel’ (Dairy on dairy will invite the devil…).


    1. Where I’m from in Holland (Brabant) that is not uncommon at all and I still do it to this day. Something else remarkable that this reply illustrates is that there are very big differences between different parts of this country that is barely bigger than the state of Maryland. The pronunciation of words, the accent or dialect, mannerisms, how outspoken or reserved people (on average) are, what and how they eat,…


  9. To answer at least one question why the 12,5 year? Because the dutch are famous about being cheap. Every 10 years is way too much. First there was only celebration at 25 and 50 years of marriage and when you go over 50 years it is progressively shorter on 60 and 65 years. But a lot where not that cheap so decided to half the first part to 12,5 years. This is now called the copper wedding and the 25 silver, 50 gold and 60 diamond.


  10. I’m Dutch, and married with a German woman.
    On our wedding (in Germany) we explicitly stated it was allowed to take more than one pieces of cake. Otherwise the Dutch had thought the Germans to be greedy and the Germans would have interpreted the Dutch as either too polite or not liking their cakes 🙂

    It has changed a bit now but in early days the biscuit tin at tea time would go round once and everybody taking a single cookie. And on a wedding you normally go for one piece of cake (unlimited rounds of coffee are obvious)


  11. The decoration when a baby is born: of course the parents don’t do this!
    It’s the friends of the parents who decorate it. They secretly decorate it and don’t even go into the house, because the parents are exhausted on the first day.

    Same for the Abraham/Sarah when you turn 50, it’s friends who decorate it, but sometimes the partner will help of course. Even weirder when you turn 25… you get a Abraham/Sarah in half 🙂


  12. There is no word in the English language for ‘ gezellig’
    The German word ‘gemutlich’
    Is close but not quite. Gezellig is more a notion or feeling good, cosy, warm, safe.


  13. I enjoyed reading this article. I am a dutchy, and as I read this I was like… Is all of this soo weird to english or american people? And as I was thinking about it, a lot of these things that we do might be unnecessary or weird at first but I would not be able to live without at least 80% percent of the things this article displayed so funny.
    For instance the word ‘gezellig’ has been difficult to place in an English conversation. And I always had the feeling I needed to.
    Or my fries with my special sauce. Okay… I can without it but I would miss it dearly haha.
    I am fond of our loco things and happy to read you grew to like them as well.
    I think these things are what makes a culture unique and fun to learn about.


  14. Great article Allison. The one thing that might be confusing to people is when you describe the boterham you don’t mention that boter means butter. It makes more sense when you know that (like I do as a Dutch boy).


  15. I havent heard of not using butter when you have cheese on your boterham, I always do and I know lots of people who do. Especially on a roll it tastes so much better with butter. I do hate butter when I put pindakaas on my boterham though, that combination makes me wanna vomit.


  16. Don’t be ridiculous; try eating a boterham met hagelslag if it doesn’t have butter on it. Btw, a sandwich is a double boterham. My UK boyfriend insists on butter when I don’t; it is by no means Dutch.
    You fail to mention your nationality. I’m sure your first home country also has local customs. No need for insulting and calling them “loco”.


  17. Tell your readers about custom habit of Zwarte Piet. Very common and accepted by white people to use the term Blackface during winters. Though they disaprove Spanish toreo because it is barbaric (though the Spanish claim torreo is part of their herritage/culture and should not being judged by foreigners). Dutch like to claim they are the best in everything and show it off by loud talking about it. Everyone needs to hear about their achievements. They still claim to play the part of innocent during WWII and use every possibillity to point the germans of their devastading acts during that war. Though the Dutch were responsible for killing many citizens in Indonesia and latin American countries, but that they like to keep quite. When they curse they curse with diseases like cancer, thypus to really whish you agony, pain and stress. No shame it all regarding inpolite behaviour, part of their herritage.


  18. Just curious, did you the blog after posting or are you pretty superstitious about the number 13? 🙂 I have been laughing out loud while reading this blog. Lekker treffend! 🙂


  19. I was quite fortunate, when visiting my Dutch girlfriend from high school (some 40 or thereabouts years later), to get a special tour of the cap of a korenmolen by the proprietor. The Dutch have a very different sense of time, as the axle of the windmill was said to have been replaced “recently.” Looking at the date on the iron axle, it had been made and replaced in (Wait for it!) 1864. In a young country like the United States of America, 1864 most certainly would not be considered “recent!” I still chuckle to think of that!

    Too, the oh, so, considerate Dutch do not expect Americans even to attempt speaking Dutch. During an NA Recovery Birthday Meeting, I was invited by the Secretary of the Meeting to call out the years in English, while he said he’d translate them to Dutch. Those there were quite surprised when I counted the years of Recovery backwards from 30 years to 24 hours in Dutch, inviting the Secretary to translate them into English! The audience loved the switch (and got polite guffaws for my American accent, which is tinged with an American, Southern drawl!)! I’d only been in NL for about a month at that time, doing what I could to dispel what some consider American “ignorance” and “arrogance,” though I’ll admit that growing up in the Middle East was not exactly the usual, American experience.

    It did somewhat bother me that virtually all but the Dutch Politie had a hoplophobic perspective about firearms. The Dutch cops I met have a somewhat more reasonable and logical perspective, though it surprised them that law-abiding American citizens could own and carry firearms to assure their own safety and that of others, individuals being their own “first responders.” Different cultures, different needs, different geography, diferent perspectives on what constitutes freedom, and what one’s responsibilities are for the safety of one’s self and others.

    De Oppresso Liber


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