Since we’ve been living here since mid October 2011, we’ve certainly picked up on a few of the funny things that Dutch people do as a nation.
Being a big fan of stereotypes (they’re what makes the world go ’round), I present to you my carefully chosen (through keen observation) list of Dutch oddities.
Whilst I’m probably the last person who should comment on hair styles (see exhibit A), I will anyway…
Exhibit A: Classic Tom haircut. Untrimmed with a tantalising mixture of ‘no soul ginger’ and monk bowl cut. And a fake smile to boot! Trudy, what more could you possibly ask for in a man?
The Dutch lads just love OVER-USING hair gel. I mean it’s extreme (ly awesome?). I reckon some blokes will wad a half tub of it in one sitting. Curls or straight, it’s irrelevant – all hair must be brushed back with stupendous amounts of the gelatinous stuff. Apparently the Dutch invented hair gel, but I’m not finding any reliable sources to back this up in the 10 seconds of Google search I managed before deciding legitimate research is for journalists and not unheard of travel bloggers.
Hair gel is especially strong in those known as ‘Hockey’s’ – the Dutch equivalent of American Frat Boys or private school Rugby Union players in Australia. Yes, they play hockey and come from well-to-do families. Clinking glasses with those of similar social status is a must, and maintaining stiff manes of wet gelatinous hair a priority.
Who am I kidding anyway? I’m considering the look myself.
If you’ve visited Holland then surely you’ve heard the words ‘lekker’ and ‘gezellig’. In fact, using a combination of these two words you can describe almost anything.
Food, weather & girls can be ‘lekker’ and anything that is cosy, atmospheric or has a great ambiance can be ‘gezellig’. The Dutch will love to tell you that ‘gezellig’ has no literal translation – it cannot be translated (it’s too awesome of a word).
So if you’re out and about in Holland, throw out a ‘lekker’ whilst munching on Kibbeling (bite sized deep fried fish pieces) or Herring with onions. You never know, it may even be ‘SUPER lekker’.
If you’re at the market, a family dinner, out at a restaurant or enjoying a house party – don’t worry, because ‘gezellig’ is always appropriate. Although if you would like to offend your host drop a ‘niet gezellig’ (not cosy) and watch the outrage begin.
Every year around February the nation stops breathing as they wait to hear whether the ice will be strong enough for ‘Elfstedentocht’. It’s really a big deal.
It may sound like a powerful elf from the Lord of the Rings but it is in fact a famous and culturally rich 200km ice skating marathon across the rivers and canals of The Netherlands.
And almost every year, the Dutch get disappointed all over again as Elfstedentocht runs about as often as your grandma does.
It’s a little known fact, but in Holland it’s more than appropriate for the CEO of a huge corporate company to munch down what is essentially chocolate sprinkles on bread (with a glass of milk of course) as it is for your neighbour’s kids five year old birthday party.
The sprinkles, which come in a range of flavours from milk chocolate to dark chocolate, are known as ‘hagelslag’. Pronounced in Australian using ‘G’ as in ‘Goat’ it reads as ‘Hag-A-Slag’ which actually doesn’t sound that appetising. Australians especially have a unique skill of butchering the Dutch language.
I didn’t really like it at first, but the abundance of hagelslag is slowly bending me to its will. It’s lekker with butter on a fresh slice of brown bread, feel free to talk about shaving, cars and football whilst plastering chocolate sprinkles all over your face.
Looking forward to celebrating your birthday in The Netherlands? Think again!
If you have a party at your house, it’s your job to provide all the food and alcohol for the night. You also need to run around offering everyone drinks and food on a 15 minute basis. It’s pretty much awesome for everyone except the birthday person!
Oh well, you can always tell them to BYO (Bring Your Own) alcohol… except if you try and pull those shenanigans in Holland, the problem will resolve itself as no-one will show up.
Well at least you get free cake from your work colleagues, right? Wrong! You have to bring your own cake to work and then walk around and give everyone at the office a piece (and three kisses). Dutch birthday’s ftw!
Still, you get to choose your own themed birthday cake…a slice of kick-ass, perhaps?
Of course it’s all fun and games, Trudy and I are loving our time here in The Netherlands. One day I should do a post on the funny things Australians do…the list would be endless.
Know some more funny things that the Dutch do? Drop a comment below!
(I also want to hear what our Dutch friends think of my list )