Dutch Quirk 29: Wave goodbye until they can’t see someone anymore

HomeUltimate List of Dutch QuirksDutch Quirk 29: Wave goodbye until they can’t see someone anymore

Picture this; the wonderful dinner party you’ve been lucky enough to attend at a Dutch person’s house has just ended, and you’re on your way home. You climb into the taxi, and say goodbye — but your host is still standing at the doorway, waving, waving, waving…

You pause, uncertain if they need something. Perhaps you forget your coat? But no, it’s an endless wave of goodbye.

In fact, you’re not sure exactly when they will stop waving as the taxi pulls around the corner, and they’re still there, shouting doei

Legend has it, they’re still waving to this day. 

What is it?

Well, it’s a part of Dutch culture. Amongst other funny social quirks, the Dutch also take a long, long time to say goodbye at the end of the night. 

You’ll often see it in Amsterdam; a group of Dutch people breaking up after an evening of casual drinks, all waving to each other as they wander off their separate ways. 

Alternatively, a Dutch oma waving goodbye to her grandkids from the front garden, lovingly watching them be carted off until the next time they visit — and steal all of her hagelslag

Have they disappeared out of the garden? Been packed into the car? Driven down the street? Halfway to France? Oma is still there dutifully waving because that’s the Dutch way. 

Why do they do it?

Perhaps for the same reason Dutch people like to leave their curtains open, or shake hands with every person they meet; it’s just a Dutch custom.

Many parts of Dutch culture have been heavily influenced by Dutch history and its connection to Calvinism

Although it’s hard to pinpoint the exact reason why the Dutch seem to be so overly enthusiastic about waving goodbye, one could presume it is due to a long history of maintaining relationships. 

With so many people living in one relatively small country (which, to many internationals, seems to be floating on water 99% of the time), it has also been important for Dutch people to maintain good relationships with their neighbours. 

That’s also why the toilet birthday calendar exists — god forbid you forget someone’s verjaardag.

Even when being served, Dutch people take ages to say goodbye. Image: Depositphotos

Plus, we have to say, it does feel extra caring knowing that someone is making such a big effort to say goodbye. 

Surely, that means they enjoyed hanging out with you and are sorry to see you go. 👋😭

Why is it quirky? 

Let’s compare this to other cultures where it’s more common to disappear without saying goodbye than it is to spend ages waving people off. 

Take the example of the ‘Irish Goodbye’. Instead of saying goodbye at all, it’s more common for people to simply leave without saying anything, and maybe send a belated goodbye text after departure. 

And, if you think about it, the idea of someone spending ten extra minutes waving goodbye is rather quirky indeed. 🥴

Should you join in? 

For sure!

The next time you attend a gathering with some Dutch people, test it out. You can see who can spend the most time waving goodbye, as you each get smaller and smaller and disappear into the horizon. 👀

Or, introduce it to your international friends and confuse them by shouting doei as they leave the house, cross the street, get onto the bus, sit down, and ride off into the distance… 👋

What do you think of this Dutch quirk? Have you experienced it? Tell us in the comments below!

Feature Image:Freepik
Heather Slevin
Heather Slevin
Heather is a Dublin native, addicted to catching the Luas, the Irish version of a tram, for one stop, and well used to the constant rain and shine. Seeking to swap one concrete city for another (with a few more canals and a friendlier attitude to cyclists) here she is with the Dutch Review! As a Creative Writing student, she can usually be found sweating over the complicated formatting of her latest poem or deep inside the pages of a book, and loves writing, writing, writing.


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