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From 2014 we have a new national holiday: KING's day. Until 2013 we celebrated Queen's day on the 30st of April, the birthday of our former queen Juliana, mother of queen Beatrix, that choose to keep this day as Queen's day (simple, because her birthday is at the end of January and festivities (mostly outdoor) will not be that pleasant at that time of year.
On the last Queen's day, 30st of April 2013, we also celebrated the coronation of the new King: Willem Alexander, grandson of Juliana (actually, in the Netherlands it is not a coronation, but an investiture). As his birthday is only a few days before the 30st of April, from 2014 his birthday will be the new national holiday: 27th of April. Starting in the proper effective Dutch way, in 2014 it will actually be the 26th of April as the first King's day would be on a Sunday and this would (as being a free day for everyone to celebrate) not be so convinient.
Written Apr 30, 2013
Every 30st of April The normally so sober and hardworking Dutch people completely get crazy. This is our national holiday, known as Queensday. We dress up in orange (the colour of the royal family) and many of us get into a partyingmood until we drop (late at night).
Why the 30st of April? Well, our queen Juliana (the mother of the present queen Beatrix and the daughter of Wilhelmina) had her birthday on the 30st of April and Beatrix kept this tradition going (lucky us as she has her birthday at the end of January and partying in the cold is not realy our hobby.
Anyway, traditions around this day are:
1. show your red-white and blue-flag (you may notice them everywhere).
2. go out into town or to the many activities organised in every neighborhood and village.
3. drink "Oranjebitter" (a strong liquor made of oranges and having the appropriate colour for this fest) or like many others do: drink loads of beer
4. go to a freemarket. here you can find the craziest things and always a bargain!
5. sing at least once the Wilhelmus, our national anthem (not necessarily all 13 parts ... one is enough)
6. watch the fireworks in the evening: preferably in my hometown Arnhem as it is done over the river Rhine and the lights magnificently reflect on the water.
PS: this local customs tip is no longer valid from 2014, due to the fact that since 30st of April 2013, we have a King. A new local customs tip can be found below.
Updated Apr 30, 2013
its a way of life, all surrounded by water, all around water, and good architecture to boot. A must when in Amsterdam is to take a boat cruise on the canals, but also to walk all around them, and at night is magical.
A recommended trip into history, culture ,and architecture of a city . Share it with the family.
Written Apr 19, 2013
My culture tip is very nice: pictures of a top VT-member. Her name is Simone. Everybody on VT knows her. She has great pages with nice info and stories, and with beautiful pictures too.
Today we had the official opening of a photo exhibition and she was the big star there, as she is on VT. On this picture you can see her next to her beautiful pictures from Venice, Italy.
Updated Nov 7, 2012
A traditional Dutch breakfast is not a culinary highlight. In fact, as previous poster says, you can have it at your hotel.
Dutch breakfast consists of slices of bread, buttered, with a slice of ham or cheese on it. Or various sweet things like jams, sprinkles, peanut butter (more savoury than Skippy). Tea, coffee, milk... That's the usual home breakfast.
Any extra's such as eggs, fruits, yoghurts, juices etc. could be add and usually are at hotels.
Any other culinary stuff we have probably pinched from the English (eggs, bacon, etc.) or French (croissants).
The typical Dutch things are:
- 'hagelslag' (sprinkles) in variations, most popular chocolate sprinkles. In most countries only known for cake decorations, we have here big boxes of the stuff to sprinkle on bread liberally. There are also sugary variations in various colours.
- Cheese is of course, a Dutch thing. So you can get your fill of what is usually called 'Gouda' cheese by foreigners (most of our Dutch cheese isn't Gouda at all, it takes a bit of knowledge to discern between the different types, since they all look somewhat the same).
- Possibly 'beschuit', round toasted bread slices. Yes, the English word 'bescuit' originates from it.
- 'Karnemelk' is popular with any bread meal. It is buttermilk, slightly sour and thicker than milk. Very nice cold.
- 'Ontbijtkoek' is a slice of spice cake which has no butter in it. Airy and generally spread with butter.
All the above is usual at hotel breakfasts in NL.
Written Sep 7, 2012
A "Dweilorkest" is a small walking orchestra with at least 2 drum players and some trompet players. Bigger "orchestra's" often have more horn players.
Often it is a group of friends that on a semi-professionelk basis makes music in their free time and performs at local events.
Dweil comes from the Dutch verb dweilen, a kind of aimingless moving through the streets in some drunken state. The repertoire originally consists of carnaval songs, but you will hear international material as well.
Written Aug 21, 2011
Queensday is one of our National Holidays and the whole country is colouring ORANGE. Street decorations and people wearing orange clothes. We are celebrating our Queen’s Birthday on April 30th (except when this is on a Sunday, then the celebrations we will be the Saturday before).
Our present Queen Beatrix and members of the royal family always visit two cities in one of the provinces in the Netherlands and a lot of ‘royalists’ are glued to the TV watching the coverage of this event.
But the main activities on this National Holiday take place in the streets of almost every town or village. These activities vary from singing school kids, playing brass bands, street musicians and people walking and sitting on one of the side walk café’s, perhaps drinking a special ‘orange bitter’. Shops do have special ‘orange’ offers.
In the meantime it is tradition that most of the towns in the country do have their own jumble sale in the streets and squares. It seems if every Dutch household has something to sell on these street markets from second hand books and records, toys, clothing, furniture till paintings and art and crafts.
Most of the bigger cities do have their Queen’s fair and finish this Queensday with a huge firework. If you want to be part of the party wear a orange outfit !!
Be aware not all tourist attractions and shops will be open at normal times.
Public transport schedules may be different from normal.
Updated Apr 4, 2011
The oysters from the province of Zeeland (south west Netherlands) are a veritable delicacy.
There are two kinds: The Zeeuwse oester and the Platte oester (flat oyster).
Both differ quite a bit. The Zeeuwse oester grows to maturity in 2 years, the flat oyster does the same in 6, which makes the latter rather more delicate and extremely pricy.
Often people think that oysters are 'snotty'. Not these oysters from Zeeland. You can really bite into them and chew. The taste lasts an extraordinarily heavenly long time. I've never had that with any other oyster, from any country.
On Christmas Day we eat 2 dozen oysters every year. And not much else. It has become a tradition in our home. We eat a dozen 'as is', and prepare half a dozen au gratin and half a dozen Chinese style. That's our Christmas dinner!
The quality and size is categorised thus:
1/0 (40-50 g)
2/0 (50-60 g)
3/0 (60-70 g)
4/0 (70-80 g)
5/0 (80-90 g)
6/0 (90-110 g)
6/0 super (>110 g)
IV (70 g)
III (70-100 g)
II (100-140 g)
I (140-180 g)
0 (>180 g)
2007, Flat Oyster 5/0 is € 2.50 a piece, € 30 per dozen.
They were delicious!
Read more about the Dutch Oyster industry at the links below.
Updated Apr 4, 2011
In The Netherlands. most hotels offer a buffet breakfast.
You will find:
- cereals and yoghurt(s)
- fruit and fruit salad
- a selection of bread and crackers
- jam and other sweet spreads
- a selection of cold cuts
- a selection of cheese
- fruit juice(s) and milk
Sometimes there are chafing dishes with scrambled eggs and fried bacon. Often there is a dish with boiled eggs.
In other hotels you'll find most of the above set out on your breakfast table.
The so-called Continental breakfast (French bread and jam, a croissant and coffee) is never served in Dutch hotels.
Breakfast is ONTBIJT in Dutch
Photo: breakfast table in hotel Watermolle in Haaksbergen. Only the bread is still missing.
Updated Apr 4, 2011
We Dutch have lots of cheese. To make a very overall distinction you look for 2 things first:
1 - age
2 - pasteurised milk (which is mostly the case, thus never mentioned) or raw milk (boerenkaas).
All those huge yellow wheels of cheese are all different:
Old, crumbly, dry salty cheese, or soft, creamy young cheese.
Pasteurised or raw milk, they all have the same age distinctions:
- jong (young)
- jong belegen (young matured)
- belegen (matured)
- extra belegen (extra matured)
- oud (old)
- brokkel (extra old and crumbly)
Friese Nagelkaas (with cloves), Komijnekaas (cumin), Graskaas (made from milk when the first grass grows in spring), Boerenkaas (raw milk) and many more varieties.
Don't be fooled by those small Gouda cheeses. They are for tourists. In fact, there is no cheese made in Gouda anymore.
Another Dutch cheese from Limburg (= province), comparable to the French pavé is a cube, about 7 cm. all sides, packed in a foil covering. It is hugely strong, smelly even.
Goat's cheese in general is my favourite.
Cheese from Ankeveen (Ankevener geitenkaas) is the most well known Dutch goats cheese.
There are also blue goat's cheeses available.
Most cheese is made in factories and there are different "brands". But cheese is still made on farms too.
Photo left to right:
cheese with cumin, cheese with cloves, old cheese, young cheese
Updated Apr 4, 2011
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