Seriously! 26 Things Not To Do In The Netherlands
I’ve learned a lot about myself, other cultures, and nations through travel. It also gave me some insight into my own tiny nation. The more I travel, the more I come to understand that we Dutch people—me included—have a special talent for making things simple into extremely complicated situations.
Seriously! The Netherlands is a wonderful country, and yes, our healthcare system is excellent, our educational system is very effective, and we have undoubtedly created a pleasant environment in which to live and work. But my God, have we not accumulated a confusing and occasionally contradictory body of customs, laws, and regulations! Here are some Dutch specialties to keep in mind for those of you who intend to travel to our tiny country:
0. Avoid attempting to speak Dutch; we find it offensive!
You consider Chinese to be challenging? Try your hand at Dutch. Don’t, that’s better, wait! One of the hardest languages in the world to learn is the Dutch language. Don’t waste your time if you’re visiting Holland and don’t intend to stay (and ours). If you do, you’ll likely sound ridiculous, use inappropriate language, and irritate us. We are not particularly amused when tourists attempt to speak Dutch, in contrast to many other cultures.
The English language and the Dutch language are related. As a result, nearly everyone in The Netherlands is able to communicate in simple English. Please don’t waste our time by speaking anything other than English.
#1 Do not refer to us as Germans!
The Kingdom of The Netherlands is the full name of our tiny nation, which is famous for its windmills, cheese, and wooden shoes. Our language is Dutch, not Netherlandisch, and so is our nationality. We still refer to Holland by its old name, though not in an official capacity. Dutch nationality, Dutch origin, and Dutch language all define us as Dutchies.
Many foreigners mistakenly believe that Dutch people are Germans because they think the word “Dutch” is synonymous with “Deutch.” MAJOR MISTAKE! The German word for the German language is deutsch. Germans are nationals of Germany, they speak German, and they are from Germany. boring, huh? The Dutch are much more entertaining! Dutch therefore has nothing to do with Germany, if you hear it.
#2 Avoid eating the “haring”
A haring should be consumed in this manner.
Similar to Dutch sushi, haring. We prefer to eat it raw and with small pieces of onion. One of our most well-liked seasonal treats is it. The first or second week of June marks the start of the haring season, when the best haring can be eaten. You won’t enjoy it, but if you want to judge for yourself, follow these steps:
- Take hold of the fish’s tail.
- Swing it no more than twice through the onion chunks;
- Raise it high in the air, about 25 centimeters away from your face, and tell a joke rather than looking into the hare’s eyes.
- Extend your mouth (like dogs do when you hold something in front of them);
- Extend your tongue;
- Gently bring the haring down and place a small portion on your tongue;
- Use a forceful bite;
- Take in the haring (but probably not)
#3 Don’t refer to anyone as black
You’ll quickly realize that Dutch people are from a wide variety of cultures and have a variety of skin tones. Many of us have international ancestry. Some people have immigrant parents, while others have ancestors who were from Dutch colonies. There are also an increasing number of Dutch people who immigrated to Holland as refugees from nations where human rights are or have been violated.
Therefore, because Dutch people have a variety of skin tones, we try to avoid bringing up someone’s skin tone. If necessary, we resort to nonoffensive terms like light- or dark-tinted. We may also employ terms that are widely recognized internationally, such as Asian, Scandinavian, Arabic, African, or Caucasian. It is widely regarded as offensive, discriminatory, and racist to refer to someone as black or to use the word black to describe their skin tone.
#4 Don’t advocate for kids
Children will speak up for the elderly, pregnant, or disabled.
Don’t expect us to stand up if you’re taking the bus or train and have children with you. Our buses and trains are completely safe, in contrast to some Asian and South American nations where taking a bus can be unsteady and dangerous. In The Netherlands, parents instill in their kids the importance of standing up for those who are pregnant, elderly, or disabled. Adults will also give up their seats, not just kids. Children require role models, right?
Our trains and buses operate safely, slowly, and without sudden turns or stops. Both our trains and the bus will be a hit with your kids! Please ask your child to give up their seat if a pregnant woman, an elderly person, or a person with a disability boards the bus or train.
#5 Don’t inquire about our pay!
The Dutch enjoy talking endlessly about everything they do, have, need, want, like, or (especially) dislike. They don’t hesitate to show off their house, car, wardrobe, or brand-new smartphone. Need advice? We’ll give it to you! Ask for assistance if you need it; it’s free! If you need directions, we will repeatedly explain where you need to go. It’s all good now.
If you have any questions about our finances, kindly refrain from doing so. We will, however, answer any questions you may have. Please refrain from enquiring about our bank balance. Never inquire about our holiday spending, and never inquire about our monthly salary! In that case, we won’t respond. You can trust that if we DO give you a number, it is a lie.
#6 Avoid using your hands to eat.
There aren’t many foods in the Netherlands that you can eat with your hands and fingers. Pizza, bread, French fries, and meat with numerous bones, such as chicken or spare ribs. It’s improper to eat rice, vegetables, potatoes, or meat without bones with your hands and fingers.
The Netherlands uses spoons, forks, and knives. Ask us and we will explain which tool to use if you are unsure. Ask for permission to do it your way if it’s really not working out, but don’t demand chopsticks because they don’t have any lying around the house.
If you choose to eat with your fingers, you are welcome to lick them once you are done. The Dutch frequently engage in it. In your country, it’s probably not done, but it poses no issues at all in The Netherlands.
#7: Stay off the red bicycle lanes.
You can find bicycle lanes all over the Netherlands, and they are only for bicycles. They are red (or gray with a bicycle sign). The main road can include bicycle lanes or separate them from it. The red color of the lanes makes them easy to spot. Every hundred meters or so, if any are gray, there will be a drawing of a bicycle. You’re in the wrong lane if you can read that drawing upside-down!
You would be wrong to assume that a Dutch person would move out of your way if you were to find yourself walking on a bicycle lane. Even worse: they’ll probably yell at you and call you whatever first, second, or third comes to mind. You are to blame if it results in an accident. It’s your own fault if you get hurt. I shouldn’t have crossed the bicycle lane to walk!
#8 If you don’t have the necessary skills, don’t ride a bicycle.
The use of bicycles is one of the many things for which the Netherlands is renowned. In the Netherlands, bicycles outnumber people. This is so that different bikes can be used for different activities. Everyone owns a bicycle, and many of us ride them frequently.
The Dutch are expert cyclists who demand that everyone around them be equally adept. Don’t ride a bicycle if you can’t ride it well. They still want you to know the rules even if you don’t ride a bike!
#9 Don’t anticipate impromptu meals or coffee dates.
Dutch people portray themselves as extremely busy and organized. not only in the course of business, but also in our personal lives. Want to see a movie, eat dinner, or go for a coffee? No issue, but reserve a time. As long as they don’t conflict with their daily, weekly, or monthly schedule, Dutch people enjoy surprises.
#10 Never show up without warning.
The Dutch always have activities planned out, places to visit, and people to meet. They dislike it when you unexpectedly knock on their door, or (worse) at their workspace or office! Always give a Dutch person a call ahead of time to see if it’s convenient before you meet.
#11 Don’t bury your inquiry in a tale
The Dutch believe they already know what you’re going to say or ask before you even begin speaking. Just ask that challenging question out loud instead of trying to hide it behind a dull story. Really, everything is fine! The proverb “No is what you have, yes is what you can get” is popular in Holland. If you want something from us, you should get right to the point rather than annoy us with a drawn-out apology and boring backstory.
Remember that the Dutch are very straightforward. They will come right out and ask you if they need anything. They won’t hesitate to let you know if they don’t like something.
#12 Never decline a handshake.
We demand a resolute handshake.
A handshake is the customary way to greet someone from The Netherlands. Absolutely not a kiss, a hug, or a bow. When you visit our country, we will adjust to your greeting style, but when you come to yours, we expect you to do the same. If you must decline a handshake due to ethical or medical reasons, be kind and politely explain why.
The handshake protocol is very straightforward. We don’t make a distinction between young and old, men and women. No matter how wealthy or what kind of job you have, new relationships in the Netherlands always start with a firm handshake.
#13. Don’t be overly cautious.
The Dutch prefer to conduct their own independent research in order to form their own opinions. They enjoy learning new things, making discoveries, and conducting various types of experiments. They don’t want to hear it and instead want to try, so there’s no need to warn them.
Sure! The Dutch will listen to you politely, say “thank you,” and then carry out their original plans. If it ends well, they will exclaim, “See, I told you so.” And NO, it doesn’t work the other way around! If something doesn’t end well, you should be sympathetic, understanding, supportive, and inspiring instead of saying, “See, I told you so!”
#14 Don’t instruct our kids in proper behavior
Only parents, police officers, teachers, and in some small villages, a priest, pastor, imam, or reverend are permitted to instruct our children in proper behavior.
Everyone else should stop talking. You must address the parent, not the child, if you have ANY issues with a child’s behavior.
If you disregard this straightforward rule, you will undoubtedly find yourself in a heated argument that is already over before it even begins. Your error is much worse than whatever the child did wrong! Prior to speaking to the child, always turn to the parent.
#15 Don’t tell us how to raise our children
What you think about our parenting abilities is really unimportant to us.
We follow our process; you follow yours. Unlike many other cultures, the old Dutch traditions are largely extinct. The Dutch prefer to instill a modern mindset in our children, and parents will adjust as necessary.
#16 Do not even think about skipping the line!
Try, then die!
You must wait in line at the grocery store, in a store, and other places as well. We don’t care if you’re pregnant, elderly, ill, or dying; just wait! In the Netherlands, cutting lines is a very serious social offense! With God’s grace, you could attempt to obtain our consent. If so, the following strategy is recommended:
- If you are at the back of the line and in a rush, move extremely slowly in the direction of the person in front of you.
- Ensure that you make direct eye contact with each person in the line and express interest in taking their place in the line before taking it.
- If they permit, avoid taking up that position and instead keep moving forward. Move on if someone doesn’t respond because it indicates they don’t like it but don’t want to cause a scene.
- Do this for each person in the line, and don’t forget to say “thank you” to everyone you pass.
- When you finally reach the front of the line, request permission from the person there to move ahead of them. Make sure everyone hears or sees you ask for permission, and always provide a justifiable explanation.
- If they agree, move in and carry out your plan.
Congratulations if you were successful because you took a big chance! Now make sure everyone you left waiting has a wonderful time! Turn around and say “thank you” or smile to everyone in the line.
#17 Drive on the right side of the road at all times!
The Netherlands does it correctly! We use the right side of the road, not the left, to drive our cars, ride our bicycles, and walk. When we are in a mall or store, we maintain our right. When standing in front of a building with multiple doors, always use the doors on your right to enter and your left to exit.
The right side of the escalator is for standing, while the left side is for people who are in a hurry, whether you are in a bus or train station, an airport, or any other location with an escalator.
#18 Avoid giving cash as a gift.
Don’t give money when invited to a dinner with a Dutch family or a child’s party if you want to bring a gift; instead, buy a gift. Giving money as a gift is only acceptable if you are an extremely close friend.
Instead of a bag, wrap the gift in colorful paper! If not, we view it as a lazy workaround and believe that giving nothing would have been preferable. In fact, aside from weddings and children’s parties, it’s perfectly acceptable to arrive empty-handed in many situations.
Wedding parties are the only events where you can get away with giving cash as a gift. Don’t forget to include your name on the envelope after you’ve placed enough cash inside. In most cases, you welcome the newlyweds, give them the gift, and offer your congratulations. Ask someone to translate the wedding invitation for you if this isn’t the case because you will find instructions on it.
Please take note that, in contrast to many Asian nations, the Dutch open their gifts right away after receiving them, with the exception of marriage gifts. We don’t hold off until everybody has left.
#19 Don’t inquire about Black Piet with us.
Everyone adores Piet, but not everybody does…
Sinterklaas, which is similar to Santa Claus but better and a few weeks earlier, is one of our customary holidays.
#20 Never depart without permission.
Always give us some time to process your departure when you are with Dutch people, such as at a party. When one person leaves a party, you’ll frequently notice that more people follow suit. The nanny is waiting for us; I have a long ride ahead of me; I need to finish some work; We have to let the dogs out; etc. are all acceptable justifications for leaving if you’re the first person to do so.
The best time to inform someone of your impending departure is about five minutes beforehand. Make sure to share your plan with at least two or three people. Some will appear genuinely shocked and invite you to stay a little longer. Not to worry; it’s just a cultural response, and they don’t mean it. You probably chose the wrong time to leave only when they strongly urge you to stay longer.
If they say, “Ja, I’ll be there right away,” then. Then you won the lottery and chose the ideal time to leave (yeah, after a little while, I’m also leaving!).
#21 Never depart without saying good-bye.
It’s perfectly acceptable in some cultures to simply leave a party without informing anyone. In The Netherlands, that would be a MAJOR error! When it’s time to leave, the Dutch give a heads-up and shake hands with everyone in the group, including those they don’t particularly like. It’s a good idea to arrive and depart as a group when you’re going out with friends. If you came to the party with your spouse, significant other, or other loved one, don’t leave without them—tacky! it’s
If you DO depart without informing anyone, we’ll assume you’re upset, ill, or otherwise in difficulty. We’ll give you a call to find out more. If you don’t answer the phone, we’ll probably start looking for you and perhaps even call the police to report a missing person. Always bid farewell!
Don’t touch our kids, rule #22
When it comes to raising their children, Dutchies are like lions. Only parents, friends, acquaintances, or professionals who work with their children, like teachers or doctors, are socially permitted to touch their children.
Strangers, especially tourists, are not permitted to kick, hit, or worse, grab their children by the arm or shoulder (not even as a joke). And NO, they don’t appreciate it if you smack their infants in the face, seize their tiny hands, or even worse, try to hold them.
#23 Do not anticipate self-respect
In The Netherlands, respecting someone is a behavior that is independent of social standing, education, wealth, or family background. Whether you are the boss of something or not, if you act like a jerk, you are a jerk, and we will treat you as such. They will make sure to let you know if you are a nice person if you are!
The Dutch think that reciprocity is necessary for respect to exist. If you display yours, they will undoubtedly display theirs as well.
#24 Avoid traveling to the Netherlands in the winter.
The four seasons in the Netherlands are spring, summer, autumn, and winter. The best seasons to visit Holland are spring and summer. In the fall and winter, there is absolutely nothing happening here. Since it is the coldest time of year, many popular tourist destinations in the Netherlands are closed.
- Spring: April, May, and March (Good time to go)
- the months of June, July, and August (Best time to go)
- Fall: September, October, and November (Bad time to go)
- Winter: January, February, and December (Worse time to go)
Don’t act like a Dutchie, rule #25
The way you are, exactly!
You will automatically be loved by the Dutch because they love foreigners, with the exception of course of Germans. Behave as you normally would, and as long as you understand that things may be different around here, we’ll be best friends! We learn more about where you are from and the do’s and don’ts in your country when you visit our tiny cheese country. Please educate us as much as you can about your way of thinking and living because we may visit that place one day. Just relax and take in the beauty of our lovely nation; you’ll love it here!
Topic: Seriously! 26 Things Not To Do In The Netherlands
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