5 odd little things you can find in the Netherlands

As an international, once you get past the most obvious things that differ from what youre used to, you start to develop a 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 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 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 used to move 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 in 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 surfboard
  • really heavy and big flowerpots
  • their pets (this is probably the “most normal”)
  • and how about another bike on the side just rolling as they go?
bike-with-stuff-in-front-and-child-seat-in-the-back
Biking (while carrying literally anything) is synonymous with Dutch culture! Image: Depositphotos

Even if these bike-riding Dutchies aren’t 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. That being said, I didn’t expect Dutchies to eat the yellow stuff with bread every day for lunch.

dutch-lunch-cheese-on-brown-bread
A classic boterham with cheese, a Dutch lunch delicacy. Image: Takeaway/Wikimedia Commons/CC4.0

I mean, I understand a sandwich is a good idea when you’re 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.

READ MORE | Lunch in the Netherlands: culture, bread and society

Is eating that much dairy good for you? 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 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 isn’t the first time I visit this topic but I keep coming back to it because it blows my mind time and time again.

Photo-of-Amsterdam-canal-houses-2021
The Netherlands, a curtainless country. Image: Unsplash

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’s a combination of “we have nothing to hide” and “everyone keeps their eyes on their own business”. Of course, that’s 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? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in September 2021, and was fully updated in June 2023 for your reading pleasure.

Feature Image:depositphotos
Laila Robles Martínez
Laila Robles Martínez
Laila is a journalist born and raised in Mexico City, and has lived in Canada (a semester in high school counts, right?), Spain (where she met the love of her life and completed her Master’s Degree in Humanities) and most recently, The Netherlands. She has great passion for exploring new cultures, mothering her beautiful three-year-old son, tasting all kinds of vegan treats and, of course, writing.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. They are absolutely obsessed with maps and planning for any trip! No fly by the seat of your pants here.

  2. You will find that in the southern (Roman Catholic) part of the country, people do close their curtains in the evening.

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