Local traditions and culture in Netherlands

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    Sinterklaas & Zwarte Piet

    by pieter_jan_v Written Nov 30, 2013

    Sinterklaas & Zwarte Piet (St. Nick & Black Peter) is the very Dutch children's event.
    Each year Sinterklaas and his helpers arrive by steam boat at the end of November; a happening that is broadcasted live by Dutch television.
    The boat is loaded with present for all children that behaved well in the prior year.
    From the day of his arrival the children will put their shoes at the chimney and sing a couple of Sinterklaas songs. In return for food for the white horse Sinterklaas rides, they get candy (often specials like speculaas, chocolat or pepernoten).
    The evening of 5 December is the time when the presents are given, often a poem goes along that describes the good and bad behavior of the one receiving person.

    So, no Father Christmas. The Dutch have their own Sinterklaas.

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    by pieter_jan_v Written Sep 27, 2013

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    The wildviaduct is a typical Dutch construction. It's a highway overpass for wild animals only.
    The Netherlands are very small and the Dutch wild animals do not exactly live in the "wild".
    To not isolated species to protected parks and forests, wildviaducts are constructed to allow migration without endangering traffic of the animals themselves.

    Next to the overpasses there are many tube crossings underneath roads to allow amphibian to cross the roads without problems.

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    (NO) Bicycles

    by pieter_jan_v Written Jun 2, 2013

    If you visit the Netherlands for the first time, you will experience the cheer number of cyclist speeding around on THEIR bicycle paths (don't dare to walk there!) and the enormous amount of "parked" bicycles. Often parked bicycles create conflicts with shopkeepers, because the bicycle blocks a part of the shop. So beware: GEEN RIJWIELEN PLAATSEN means DO NOT PARK YOUR BICYCLE HERE.

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    27th of April, our national holiday: KING's day

    by Pavlik_NL Written Apr 30, 2013

    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.

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    30st of April, our national holiday Queensday!

    by Pavlik_NL Updated 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.

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    canals of Amsterdam

    by gwened Written Apr 19, 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.

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    My culture tip is very nice:...

    by richmors Updated Nov 7, 2012

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    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.

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    Dutch breakfast

    by ATLC Written Sep 7, 2012

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    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.

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    by pieter_jan_v Written Aug 21, 2011

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    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.

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    Queensday – lot of traditions

    by vtveen Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    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.

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    FOOD: Zeeuwse oesters (Oysters from Zeeland)

    by ATLC Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    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:

    Flat Oyster
    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)

    Zeeuwse oester
    IV (70 g)
    III (70-100 g)
    II (100-140 g)
    I (140-180 g)
    0 (>180 g)

    Price indication:
    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.

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    Dutch hotel breakfast

    by ATLC Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    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.

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    FOOD: Dutch cheese (kaas)

    by ATLC Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    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

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    FOOD: Hollandse nieuwe (young herring)

    by ATLC Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    This morning (June 23rd 2003) I sauntered off to the local fish stall because I feel like eating one of my favourite things for lunch: Hollandse Nieuwe (herring). I buy fresh white soft bread at the bakery to put them on or I may slide one down my throat and enjoy it pure. It's a typical Dutch thing!

    Every year the herring lives the same cycle. In the months May and June the herring will have fattened enough but not formed any hard or soft roe yet. Herring can acquire plenty of fat in May if the weather is good. Fishermen will watch the weather and temperature closely during this period. Lots of sun will mean lots of food for the herring, so that they will grow nicely.

    The Hollandse Nieuwe (Dutch New) is the first herring that is caught in season, usually in May. As soon as the herring has a minimum of 16% fat, it may hit the market as “Hollandse Nieuwe”. But there are other demands. The herring must be gutted, ripened, salted and filleted in the traditional Dutch way. During gutting, the gills, intestines and throat of the herring are removed. The pancreas remains as it helps the herring ripen.

    Herring is caught nearly all year long, but not all herring can be called “Hollandse Nieuwe” or maatjesharing (young herring). During the year, the amount of fat in the herring changes. During these different fat stadia, the uses of the herring change also. Herring caught in August through October is smoked, marinated or turned into rollmop (rolmops in Dutch). De hard roe of the herring is partly exported to Japan where it is a veritable delicacy.

    The salting “cooks” the herring, so it is not truly raw when you eat it, though it looks like it. If you eat chopped raw onion with it is a matter of taste. Purists will be revolted but do what you like! With onion they taste great too.
    There is lots of tradition around Hollandse Nieuwe of which I will relate another time.

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    FOOD: Roombroodje (cream bun)

    by ATLC Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Bread and cakes are available in a wide variety in Dutch bakeries.
    Baker's shops are usually quite large shops with lots to choose from.

    This is a roombroodje, a slightly sweet soft white bun with cream in it and icing sugar on top.
    Messy to eat but sooo good! Often have one for breakfast on Saturdays.

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Comments (1)

  • pieter_jan_v's Profile Photo
    Dec 28, 2012 at 8:13 AM

    Feb 9 Carnaval; Mar 31 Summertime; April 6 & 7 Musem wekend; April 30 Queensday; May 11 Windmill day; Sept 14 & 15 Open Monument weekend; Oct 27 Winetrtime; Nov 16 Arrival Sinterklaas

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