1. Odd Dutch quirk: Dutchsplaining
Dutch people are proud — but they won’t EVER say they are nationalists, and, among each other, they have lots of fun complaining about things that don’t work the way they should.
Even so, the pride they have for their little country and their (mostly well-functioning) systems is undeniable.
If you, as an international, try and question some of their rules and systems, you’ll almost certainly bang your head against a wall of “Yes, but…”. Things here work better than in many other places, and as an outsider, you haven’t earned the right to criticize them (yet).
Soon enough follows the “Dutchsplaining”, or why/how they do things that way and why this is the best of all possible worlds. This goes hand in hand with having an opinion on just about everything — so you can see why sometimes Dutchies can sound like a bit of know-it-all!
2. Odd Dutch quirk: food — just enough
Coming from a country where food is a religion, the Netherlands seems like a pretty frugal place. And I’m not talking about the fanciness of the food.
More simply, I’m talking about the amount of it. On many occasions, I’ve been invited to parties where the amount of food hasn’t been enough for the people attending.
While in Italy, the unspoken rule reigns that the refreshments should be enough to feed twice the expected attendees, an unannounced +1 in the Netherlands could cause awkward looks and whispers, “has he brought his drinks and snacks??”.
This may be related to the fact that unexpected guests aren’t something Dutchies deal very well with. You either come or you don’t — bailing or showing up spontaneously aren’t options.
One upside of this eating attitude is that they don’t get offended if you say no to more food. It may sound silly, but in Italy, refusing extra serves can be seen as rude, or as being a picky eater. It’s refreshing to be able to eat just the amount of food you want without having to blame some made-up allergy.
On the other hand, eating more than your allotted quota will make you look greedy.
3. Odd Dutch quirk: efficiency
Dutch people love to plan; be on time; save money; eat fast. What do all these things have in common? Easy!
Most of the behaviours and quirks Dutch people have could be summarised and explained by “the pursuit of efficiency”. Why waste time and/or money by doing things spontaneously?
Everybody loves achieving the best results with minimal effort and minimal energy loss (that’s what efficiency boils down to). However, Dutchies take this to the extreme, and I often get the feeling that their need for efficiency can result in a loss of chill or satisfaction.
Take lunch, wouldn’t it be more enjoyable to have something more than a slice of bread and cheese? Yes, but then it’d take longer.
Or a vacation: I like to keep my plans open and adjust to changing circumstances. However, travelling with Dutchies has taught me that there is no such thing as changing circumstances — such as pouring rain when you’re out camping — but just a lack of courage or will. Pull through the storm and stick to the plan.
Have you observed any other odd Dutch quirks while living in or visiting the Netherlands? Tell us in the comments below! 👇
Editor’s note: This article was originally published in October 2017, and was fully updated in October 2022 for your reading pleasure.