15 weirdly cute things Dutch people do

The Dutch are known for being direct, cheap, and innovative — but they can also be surprisingly cute! 

We put our readers to the test and asked them what downright adorable things they’ve spotted Dutchies — and the answers didn’t disappoint!

15. Chow down chocolate sprinkles for breakfast at any age 

Chocolate sprinkles (hagelslag) are a favourite food of the Dutch and are eaten by Dutchies young and old for breakfast every single day. 

The Dutch are a no-nonsense sort of people, but don’t you just love the idea of a grown Dutchie getting ready to start their day as a straight-talking businessman/woman by eating SPRINKLES for breakfast? Somethings gotta fuel that bad-assery, I guess.

The question of sugar for breakfast seems to mark a dividing line between the Dutch and internationals. Sure, the odd encounter with hagelslag can evoke happy memories of celebrations and being a kid again. But if you ask me, I’d rather have a poached egg and some bacon! 

14. Total strangers wishing you “eet smakelijk” if they walk past while you’re eating

Have you ever tried to eat something on a train in the Netherlands? Be it your lunch, or just a frikandelbroodje you got from AH? We almost guarantee that the conductor or another well-meaning person that walks past will say “eet smakelijk.” Why thank you, kind Dutch stranger, we will!

13. Congratulate everyone at someone else’s birthday party

Have you ever been to a Dutch birthday celebration, aka a “circle party”? If not, you’re in for a surprise. Upon arrival, it’s basically mandatory to greet every guest in attendance and congratulate them for their connection to the person whose birthday you’re celebrating. In English, it would go like this: 

  • Hey Joost’s girlfriend, congratulations on Joost’s birthday!
  • Nice to see you, Joost’s father, congratulations!
  • Hey Joost’s neighbour, congratulations for Joost
Photo-of-people-embracing-each-other-greeting-each-other-at-Dutch-birthday-party
You have to congratulate everyone. Image: Askar Abayev/Pexels

While we think it’s great to spread the love, it can be super awkward congratulating a distant uncle you may be meeting for the first time. Nevertheless, this is a tradition Dutch people love. 

Tip: don’t forget the three cheek kisses!

12. Wave at everyone from their boat ride on the canal

Whether it’s a typical Dutch family with two kids and a dog, or a boatload of rowdy frat-boys, there’s one thing they all have in common: waving at people on the side of the canal.

And we appreciate that. After all, if you’re not in the boat, you at least deserve a little wave to ease your disappointment. 

READ MORE| Renting a boat in the Netherlands: all you need to know

11. Be a little cat crazy 

The Dutch sure do like their feline friends. With between two and three million cats calling the Netherlands their home, you’re likely to see a plethora of different kitties wherever you go. Many restaurants and shops even have an in-house cat (who acts as a built-in rat-catcher). 

In fact, there are establishments that offer cats as their selling points — cat cafes! Want to enjoy a hot chocolate with slagroom (whipped cream) as a bundle of fur purrs in your lap? The Dutch have just the thing for you. There is even an Instagram page called raampoes (which directly translates to “window cat”) in which people share pictures of photogenic cats looking out through windows. Purrrrima!

10. Hang their backpacks on flagpoles when they graduate

Have you ever been strolling through your neighbourhood and suddenly seen a bunch of backpacks mysteriously dangling from flagpoles beside the Dutch flag? It’s nothing sinister — just a much-loved Dutch tradition! 

Every year in June or July when Dutch students graduate from high school, their families proudly hang the student’s school bag on the house flag pole. Happy graduation! 

9. Add “je” to everything to make it sound small and cute 

While Dutch can sound like a bit of a hard language sometimes, here is an eensie weensie cute thing the Dutch do — add “je” to the ends of words! 

In English, we refer to this as baby-talk but Dutchies use this all the time: a bier is a “biertje” and an aardappel (potato) can be an aardappeltje. Imagine walking up to a bar and asking for “one beerie please!” 😂

8. Be completely obsessed with flowers

💐 Every weekend, you’re bound to see Dutchies of all ages filling the streets with flowers in hand — no special occasion required.

Bloemetjes appear to be a great solution to everyday problems in the Netherlands. Had a bad day at work? Flowers. Bad period pain? Flowers. Someone stole your bike? Flowers. If you ever have the pleasure of dating a Dutchie, make sure you have more than one vase or you will be judged as your room fills with — you guessed it — flowers.  

READ MORE| Amsterdam’s blossoming bikes keep popping up and … – DutchReview

7. Use funny little sounds to convey intricate meaning 

If you’re new to the Netherlands and haven’t picked up any Dutch yet, the language can sound a bit like gibberish. Truth be told, even if you’ve been here for years, it’s still possible to be surprised by some of the little sounds that Dutch people make which are widely accepted and understood forms of speech, like: 

  • Saying “zo” after they’ve finished doing something, 
  • Saying “hé hé” to express satisfaction at a job well done, 
  • Saying “nee nee nee” (always three times) before actually replying. 

So simple, yet so packed with meaning.

6. Be ultra-enthusiastic when saying “hi” and “bye”

In the Netherlands, saying “hi” and “bye” are very important, and there are very specific ways of doing this.

People-waving-hello-goodbye
Saying hello and goodbye sets the tone for your conversation. Image: Zen Chung/Pexels

Dutchies often say “hoi hoi” when they greet people, which is adorable. (Reminds us a bit of Santa actually). But better yet is the enthusiasm with which groups of friends yell “doeeiiiii” in perfect harmony at each other as they split off and cycle in different directions. 

It’s even better when this high-pitched “doeeiiiii” is being yelled by middle-aged men. (This never fails to brighten up a bike ride). 

5. Wave their hand next to their head when eating something yummy 

If you’ve ever eaten stamppot with a bunch of Dutchies, you might’ve noticed some people pulling happy faces and waving the palm of their hand around next to their cheek. 

Do they have something on their face? Are they choking? Nee! This is the lekker hand gesture. Whilst it can look kinda ridiculous initially, we’ve gotta admit it’s also pretty endearing. 

4. Get excited about fancy sandwiches 

We know the Dutch love bread and cheese, but fancy sandwiches at lunchtime bring on a new level of excitement. These could be anything from goat’s cheese with rocket and parma ham, to smoked salmon, cream cheese and capers. You can be sure that’ll have all the Dutchies in the area’s mouth’s watering. 

Pair this with a massive cup of milk, and it could almost be Christmas!

3. Hold hands while cycling

Did you know, most Dutch people actually cycle out of the womb? 🚲 We’re kidding! But it’s safe to say that Dutch children can pretty much cycle better than most of us internationals by the time they can walk. 

Cycling is an important part of the Dutch lifestyle, so naturally many of the cutest things you’ll see Dutchies doing involve bikes. The initial sighting of a couple holding hands while cycling towards you can cause a bit of a panic — will they make space? Or do you need to swivel off the cycle path?? —  but eventually you’ll realise their love poses no threat. 

2. Decorating everything from their houses to the streets 

Ever walked down a Dutch street and seen: 

  • an entire house decorated in orange buntings?
  • a stork’s bum stuck on a window?
  • A front door decorated with “50!” speed signs?

Confused? Yep, we are too. But decorating houses is just the Dutchie way! What are they celebrating? It could be anything, and we support that. Only one thing is for sure, at the rate that Dutchies decorate, HEMA will never go out of business!

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Marc Wurfbain 🦀🇳🇱 (@wurfbain_photography)

1. Follow the sunshine (wherever it goes!) 🌞

Let’s face it, the Dutch winter is bleak. But as soon as the sun comes out (even if it’s winter), people will drag chairs outside and follow the sun around their garden. If they don’t have a garden or balcony, no problem! They’ll just move out to the street and take up the sidewalk or a parking spot — and are they going to apologise for that? No.

Meanwhile, as soon as summer comes, it won’t be long before Dutchies have their cheeseboards and white wine out, transforming their doorsteps into al fresco cafes. Can’t go to the Mediterranean? Geen probleem, in the Netherlands, the Mediterranean comes to you. 😉

What do you think are the cutest things that Dutch people do? Have we left anything out? Tell us in the comments below!

Feature Image: CroMary/Depositphotos

Editor’s Note: This article was originally written in June 2021, and was fully updated in October 2021 for your reading pleasure.


Jen Lorimer 🇿🇼
An avid tea drinker, Jen was born and raised in Zimbabwe. She moved to Utrecht in 2017 to pursue her history degree. She loves people-watching, canoeing the Utrecht canals, and observing how the Dutch come alive in summer. Having been traumatised by a Dutch circle party, Jen wants to help equip other internationals with tips and tricks to survive and thrive in this wonderful flat country.

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20 COMMENTS

  1. They used to have the habit of hanging bedclothes out of the window to let sheets and blankets air😳 You don’t see it very often now

    • Mmmmm every Monday ! And look up on Saturday morning where you will see the “overhemd” hanging out of the window … to air it out from smoke … ( Voorhout just minutes outside The Hague anyways )

    • Ja zeker! I recall my Dutch Mother and Sister hanging bedclothes out the window here in the USA. It never occurred to me no one else here did that. No wonder we were curiosities in small-town America.

      • Reminds me of my parents 1st time coming to America, at the motel, my sister went to see what took them so long, to come so we could have breakfast together, Mam was hanging the blankets and sheet on the balcony rail to air out ha ha

  2. Something bout the US. They’re having breakfast with chocolatdonuts, chocolatmuffins, chocokatcornflakes 🤭, sugared waffles.
    When something surprise them, they’re yelling together ohhhhhh myyyyyy gooooood 🥴.
    When a mother will be told she’ll be grandmother they turn in into a very weird exemplar.
    After a wedding the bride throws her flowers backward to a bunch of weird other girls who are fighting for the flowers.
    More??? Oh yes enough of those weird american “selfmade traditions”. Wish them health and prosperity. 😘😂

  3. Oliebollen (donuts) and bitterballen, raw herring with onions, in winter stamppotten (vegetables, potatoes and often spek and rookworst).

    • Poffertjes, open sandwiches, eating with fork and knife, I did eat my 1st hamburger with fork and knife. My 1st date took me to a very classy restaurant , had to wear a long dress, he picked me up IN HIS BIG TRUCK, cream dress (I thought maybe his car broke down, not so). He ordered steak for us both, then he stuck his fork smack in the middle and cut a to big piece of , took his fork out to take the piece and stuffed it in his mouth. I was so embarrassed, and looked to see if anyone saw it, other people did the same. I took small bites, in case I was talked to, as I had learned. I never went out with him again, so uncomfortable I have never been

  4. When something tastes really good, we make mmmm sounds. Never knew we did this until a foreigner asked me what the sound meant. Since then I hear that sound at every meal 🙈🤣

    • Oh myyyy goddddd! I never knew the MMMMMM sound in appreciation of something tasty is a Dutch quirk. I’ve done it all my life. I’ve had Americans wonder why I was making that noise as I ate. I’ve learned here that some of my quirks were imported from ons Vaderland by my parents who taught them to me. Now I wonder how many more Dutch mannerisms I’ve had all my life.

  5. Beschuit met muisjes 🥰
    When a nay is born you either give blue or pink a ice seen sprinkles on a rusk cracker. 🌹

  6. As well as zo, …je, dooieiiii, nee nee nee etc, they often say in reply to a question “Ja, nee………”.

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