As an international, once you get past the most obvious things that differ from what you are used to, you start to develop a kind of sixth sense when it comes to detecting strange stuff that goes on around you — and let me tell you, it’s fun!
Here is a list of just five weird things I have found after careful observation of the Dutchies and their beautiful country. 👇
1. Schoolbags on flagpoles
A couple of months ago, I kept running into schoolbags on flagpoles in random houses all over and I couldn’t help but wonder what it meant.
Was it a secret code for something? Did they run out of space inside? It wasn’t long before I found out it’s a Dutch tradition that takes place in early June when the school year is over. (uitslagdag)
Apparently, if a high school senior lives in a house that happens to have a flagpole, they shall hang out their schoolbag as a sign that they passed all their final exams, and thus, are graduating! (eindexamen uitslag)
It represents throwing their bag out the window, quite literally, because it’s no longer needed. Very oddly cute!
2. Bikes that are used for moving a house
I have seen some pretty badass cycling during my time in the Netherlands, like the super mom or dad who carries four children on a bakfiets.
What I really did not see coming was all the other solo bike activities Dutchies do, like carrying stuff I would honestly never have imagined. Here is a short list:
- a ladder
- a chair
- a giant lamp
- a surfboard
- really heavy and big flowerpots
- all kinds of huge boxes
- their pets (this is probably the “most normal”)
- and how about another bike on the side just rolling as they go?
Even if these bike-riding Dutchies are not carrying anything, they like to put their hands behind their back — because who needs to have a good grip on the vehicle they’re operating?
3. Brood met kaas every damn day
The love for cheese in this country is not a secret to anyone unless you live under a rock. This being said, I did not expect Dutchies to eat the yellow stuff with bread every day for lunch.
READ MORE | Lunch in the Netherlands: culture, bread and society
I mean, I understand a sandwich is a good idea when you are in a hurry or don’t have any time to cook — but that is so not the case here. The tall people from the land of endless canals simply don’t understand life without a good brood met kaas in the middle of the day.
I personally don’t think eating that much dairy is good for you, but to each their own. Plus, there’s nothing like a nice home-cooked warm meal, right?
4. A random girl on stickers plastered throughout the cities
This is one of the strangest ones. I live in The Hague and have noticed that almost everywhere I went (downtown, the beach, and the suburbs), there was a sticker with what appears to be some type of yearbook-style picture of a young blonde girl.
I mean, who is this girl? Why is she all over the city and occasionally found in other Dutch (and even international) locations?
The answer has yet to be confirmed, but I found one theory that says some guy thought it would be funny to print a hundred stickers of his sister just to mess with her, and so he did.
I later found out this girl is all grown up now and has an Instagram account (@hetzusje), where she visits the sticker theme and you can even DM her for stickers. I mean, c’mon, how weird is that? You can’t make this stuff up!
5. Curtains that are wide open (or no curtains at all)
I will admit this is not the first time I visit this topic, but I keep coming back to it because it simply blows my mind time and time again. It deserves a spot on the weird things Dutch people do because where else in the world can you see everything that goes on inside a house while you walk down the street?
READ MORE | Dutch Quirk #46: Never close their curtains
I think it is a combination of “we have nothing to hide” and “everyone keeps their eyes on their own business”. Of course, that is not entirely the case for impressionable internationals. It’s very hard not to look inside.
What are some of the weirdest things you have discovered during your time in the Netherlands?
Feature Image: Depositphotos
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in September 2021, and was fully updated in July 2022 for your reading pleasure.
It said as one of the cleanest country, but used chewing gums and cigarette butts are everywhere.
They are absolutely obsessed with maps and planning for any trip! No fly by the seat of your pants here.
You will find that in the southern (Roman Catholic) part of the country, people do close their curtains in the evening.