The Dutch are known to foreigners to be a very kind and appreciative audience when it comes to concerts, theatre and such.
Why? Well, anyone will get a standing ovation!
Most audiences in the world will applaud politely or even enthusiastically when a show has ended. Only rarely do people stand up.
But in The Netherlands it is custom to always give a standing ovation.
Artists from abroad like to start their world tours in The Netherlands. We won't let anyone down.
There you have it. Our way of applauding, with the standing ovation has devaluated the whole thing!
Congratulations! You are invited to a Dutch home. So what should you expect?
Unique Suggestions: Depending on the type of invitation:
for morning coffee: arrive at 10-10.30 at the latest and leave at 12:30 at the latest. You will probably not be invited to lunch. Take coffee literally: usually 2 cups of coffee and some cake or biscuits (only because you are there as a visitor, usually the cake will be left out).
for afternoon tea: arrive at around 15.00 hrs and leave at 17 hrs at the latest because you will probably not be invited for dinner. Tea will consist of just that: a few cups of tea and some biscuits. Don't expect a lavish meal!
for dinner: make sure you know which time to arrive. Normal family dinner time is around 18.00 hrs but for a small dinner party 19-19:30 hrs is usual. Make sure you bring a small gift like flowers or chocolates or a bottle of wine.
You don't need to bring anything if you're invited for coffee or tea unless there is a celebratory reason to do so.
Why should you not stay too long? The Dutch usually cook dinner with the exact amount of food they expect to need. Five members in a family? Then 5 meatballs or pork chops. Get the drift?
Fun Alternatives: The Dutch are not unhospitable. In fact, the customs I describe above are changing slowly, thank heavens. It just doesn't enter their minds to make a visit into a lavish occassion.
For example, I often invited friends for tea and would insist they stay for dinner too. But often this was rejected because my visitors were so afraid they'd overstay their welcome.
The fact that I usually have a lot of food in the house (just in case) is more a peculiarity than usual.
Nothing, if you're invited to morning coffee or afternoon tea. At least, it isn't necessary.
Wine or flowers or chocolates if you're invited for dinner.
Don't be surprised if the Dutch say that you shouldn't have brought something. It's politeness because if you hadn't, it would sure be talked about once you left.
Unique Suggestions: If you bring flowers, don't limit yourself to a mere bunch of tulips. Bring a proper bouquet and have it giftwrapped.
The Dutch splash out on flowers. Many families buy fresh bouquets every week to brighten their homes.
Fun Alternatives: Of course you can let your imagination go and and bring something else. Especially if you know your hosts, they'd also be happy with a gift that is typical of your country.
If you're invited to dinner and want to bring wine, then it isn't unusual to ring and ask if white or red would be appreciated.
the little village of Volendam is a nice place indeed, fishermans village with a very nice harbour, and tiny streets packed with all kinds of stores etc, and quite a lot of the photoshops has an atelier upstairs, or in the back, where they "trick" tourists into dressing up in traditional Volendam clothings ( old fashion ones that is )
Unique Suggestions: walk pass the photoshops:)
Fun Alternatives: take a snack, or a drink at the bayside restaurant:)
Minted in 2003 to commemorate the 150th birthday anniversary of Vincent van Gogh.
To be honest it's not the best designed coin I saw but it is a collector's item. Only 100.000 made.
It's silver 925/1000
Fun Alternatives: The alternative is the ordinary 5 euro banknote.
You can order this coin (if still available) at www.knm.nl (Royal Dutch Mint)
Anne Frank was one of the Jewish victims of Nazi persecution during the second world war. After Nazi Germany invaded the Netherlands in 1940, increasingly severe anti-Jewish measures began here as well. The Frank family tried to escape by going into hiding. On July 1942, Otto Frank, Edith Frank-Hollander and their daughters Margot and Anne hid in this building on the Prinsengracht. They where later joined by Mr. and Mrs Daan, their sun Peter and Mr. Dussel. The building consists of two parts : a front house and a back anex. Otto Frank's business was located in the front house. The uppermost floors of the back anexe became the hiding place. After more than two years the group was betrayed and deported. Anne and Margot died of typhes in Bergen-Belsen in March 1945, only a few weeks before this concentration camp was liberated. Otto Frank, the only member of the group to survive, returned after the war.
During the hiding period Anne Frank kept a diary. In it she described daily life in the back anexe, the isolation and the fear of discovery. Anne's diary survived the war: after the betrayal it was found by Miep Gies, one of the helpers. When it was confirmed that Anne would not be returning, Miep gave the manuscripts to Otto Frank. In 1947 the first Dutch edition appeared. Since then the diary has been published in more then 55 languages.
Daily: from 9 AM to 7 PM
From March 29th to September 1st: 9 AM to 9 PM
On May 4th: 9 AM to 7 PM
On December 31st: 9 AM to 5 PM
On January 1st and December 25th: 12 Noon to 7 PM
Last admittance: 30 minutes prior to closing
Closed on Yom Kippur
Because of the steep stairway, the museum is not accessible to people with walking difficulties.
The expression Dutch Treat is well known. It refers to the proverbial scringyness of the Dutch which in a way is true. We seem to have a lot of savings bank accounts. But the Dutch also give a lot to charity. Partly through their taxes but also through the many charities to support national and international causes.
The Dutch give 1.2% of their bruto year income to charity. If you are a member of a church, the rule of thumb is that you donate 2% of your bruto income to the church. In addition probably to whatever you give to other charities.
Charity is even a scientific study in The Netherlands. At the Universities of Amsterdam and Tilburg there the Social Science faculties run a special programme. Very interesting stuff.
Unique Suggestions: What if you don't have money to donate?
Fun Alternatives: Do voluntary work. Even with a government that takes care of so many social causes, there are still many, even locally, that are dependent on gifts and voluntary work.
My first voluntary job I had at age 14, pouring coffee in an old people's home and helping out with the handicrafts therapy. I've had lots of satisfaction working with the elderly, sick or with young people. And the last 10 years raising funds for projects overseas.
For an English summary of the donational behaviour of the Dutch, go to:
When people from abroad come to stay at my house and if they are remotely interested in language, it has struck me that the word "Lekker" is especially interesting to my guests. It's an easy word to say and very distinguisable from other words as it is often used on its own. They work out quickly that it has to do with food. But then they become confused. Because I would exclaim "Lekker" not relating to food but for example having a nice sit-down or commenting about the weather.
It's a typical Dutch stop word.
Unique Suggestions: You'll hear this word a lot in NL.
Lekker = tasty or nice as in:
Lekker eten = having nice food
Lekker wandelen = having a nice walk
Slaap lekker = sleep well
Proverbs are usually not exclusive to one country or language.
But here are some that reflect Dutch culture or that are used often in daily communication.
Unique Suggestions: Beloofd = beloofd
Promise is debt
Wat een boer niet kent dat vreet hij niet
What the farmer doesn't know, he won't eat
Wie voor een dubbeltje geboren is wordt nooit een kwartje
Whoever is born a dime will never become a quarter
Goedkoop is duurkoop
Cheap will turn out to be expensive
Voor een dubbeltje op de eerste rang willen zitten
Wanting to sit first rank for almost nothing
Fun Alternatives: The official Dutch dictionary is Van Dale. First published in 1864, and latest edition 2005.
Cultures have different attitudes towards time.
A Dutch saying is
Tijd = Tijd (time = time)
Man van de klok = man of the clock, a punctual person (if said of someone, it is a compliment)
Meaning you are expected to be punctual and on time.
Unique Suggestions: --
You are expected to be on time in The Netherlands. Business and private appointments alike.
Except for parties where arrival 30 min. to an hour after the announced time is usual.
But if you expect friends at 8, then expect them to be there at said time!
Fun Alternatives: -
Cancel or change appointments well in advance if you want to be liked.
Dutch people usually eat at about 5.30- 6 pm.
It is good practice to leave around that time as it isn't very usual to be invited to dinner.
Unique Suggestions: Restaurant kitchens mostly close at 9 or 10 pm so if you make a reservation, don't be much later than 8 pm.
"Gezellig" is a typical Dutch word to describe a situation.
The meaning: "gezellig" in a place means:
cosy, snug, homey...
In reference to a person it means:
pleasant, sociable, entertaining.
So far so good.
Imagine using the word cosy about 10 times a day...
Q: let's have dinner together
A: yes, gezellig!
Q: do you like it here?
A: yes, gezellig!
Q: do you like this guy?
A: yes, he's a gezellige man
Q: how was the party
Gezelligheid kent geen tijd
(if it's pleasant then time is no issue)
Unique Suggestions: You can just use and abuse the word "gezellig" for any situation or person.
See photo. It's a sign outside a pub restaurant. It says:
Cofee and cake
GEZELLIG borrelen (cosy drinking!)
Fun Alternatives: Just don't use it if you don't feel like it.
"Gezellig" is rather bourgeois, middle-class, yet it is used extremely often by all Dutch people from all backgrounds.
We often laugh about it ourselves but continue to find anything and everybody "gezellig"
Just remember that, although the word is translatable (see dictionary), it is hardly explainable.
We consider "gezelligheid" something typical Dutch.
So you have a spontaneous idea to have a nice evening out or dinner with your Dutch friends. Don't be surprised if you can't make an appointment because nobody's got their diary at hand. Appointments without diaries are not made.
Don't be surprised if your "spontaneous" idea can't be followed up in a few days. It'll often take a month to get everyone together.
Unique Suggestions: Nothing left for you to do but organise the event if you want to spend time with your friends.
It seems that short-notice appointments can only be made with close friends.
Fun Alternatives: errr..... I don't have an alternative. Let me check my diary! :-)))
The Netherlands is a small country, so the longest trip you can make is about 300 km. if you go from south to north.
Roads are good, so are the cars. Many of them. Which means that especially in the west of the country (Randstad = triangle Rotterdam-Amsterdam-Utrecht) you will find yourself in traffic jams from 7-9:30 in the morning and 16.30-18.30 in the evening.
Unique Suggestions: If possible avoid the rush hour.
If you have a mobile phone, send an SMS to 969 (KPN) stating: FILE (followed by the moterway number for example A15)...
thus: FILE A15 will give you the traffic jams (FILE in Dutch) on the A15.
Just FILE will give you all traffic jams.
Fun Alternatives: An alternative is public transport: train, bus, metro.
See my transportation tips.
And specifically the scheduler of all public transportation across the country here. (Including translation)
Probably not typically Dutch but we will all complain about the weather.
Somehow a summer will always remembered for its rain even if there was plenty of sun too.
If summer is too wet, the farmers will complain that the harvest won't be good and we can expect higher prices.
if the summer is too dry, the same happens.
The winters will be considered wet and horrible if there is no frost and nice snow.
If there's frost and snow then there will be complaints about the effect it has on traffic and that it is COLD.
Lately, summers can be quite hot. We've had weeks of around 25-30 degrees Celsius. Of course we will then stay inside and buy air coolers as Dutch climate should definitely not take on the air of a tropical country.
If it is nice and warm, it always remains like that for too short a period.
In short, no weather is ever any good!
Unique Suggestions: Just don't start about the weather! You will always get a complaint :-)))
Fun Alternatives: Tell your Duch hosts that the weather is even worse in your country (make it up, if you must). You will either be contradicted (true or not) or you'll make us feel better :-)
The weather is taken very seriously though. Because the country is below sealevel.
Check Dutch weather station KNMI for the story about the big flood in 1953 where over 1800 people died.
The photo is from that website.
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