Dutch Quirk #4: Eat dinner ridiculously early

HomeCultureDutch Quirk #4: Eat dinner ridiculously early

It’s 6 PM, and you know what that means: first beer of the day, you might say, or a nice glass of wine? WRONG! Well, at least in the Netherlands, it means that it’s dinnertime. ✨ 

Wait a minute – 6 PM? Won’t you be hungry again at like…11 PM?  And when is lunch then? 😱 So many questions! 

What is it?

Basically, the Dutch have a reputation for having dinner very, very early. Meaning, if 4 PM counts as ‘afternoon’ and 5 PM as ‘late afternoon’, then 5:30 PM could just as well be Dutch avondeten (dinner). 

If you’re an Italian or Spaniard, this is shocking. If you’re from Germany or Denmark, you might shrug it off. And obviously, not every Dutchie will choose to have dinner this early. But there sure as hell won’t be any raised eyebrows at a 6 PM dinner invite either.

Why do they do it?

Well, one theory looks at the Dutch dinner culture and how eating habits changed during the industrial revolution.

Originally, it was pretty common for the working classes to have a warm meal around noon. But with the dreary factory work keeping them away from home all day, a warm dinner was bitterly needed when they returned early in the evening. 

On a more modern note, the Dutch are infamous for doing a terrible job at lunch. Meaning, Dutch Lunch (it’s a thing) most probably consists of bread with cheese (broodje kaas) — or anything else as long as it’s quick, efficient, dairy-heavy and beige, of course.

So of course it makes sense that those Dutchies are hungry again at 5 PM at craving a steaming hot plate of stamppot or Surinamese roti.  

Why is it quirky? 

Well, it just sort of gets in the way of things sometimes. 

First off, you can’t just call during Dutch dinner time. Wanna have a quick chat with your Dutch friend after work? They might get annoyed about being interrupted by your phone call when trying to gobble down some mustard soup

Or you’ve met with a Dutch friend for an afternoon coffee and an hour later they are already rushing to get home? Yep. You guessed it. Dutch dinner time. ✨ 

One last example. You are sitting with a group of Dutchies in a bar. It’s the early evening, you’ve had a couple of beers and your stomach is growling. “Anyone up for frietjes?” you ask. But no one wants to join you for 7 PM fries, because they’ve already eaten. 😢

Should you join in? 

Sure, why not. It will definitely make your life in the Netherlands a little bit easier sometimes. And isn’t it supposed to be healthier for you anyway?

Or, top tip: Just have two dinners! One to please the Dutch, the other four hours later at 11 PM because your growling stomach won’t let you sleep. Your choice. 😘

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

Feature Image: AlikeYou/depositphotos


Cara Räker 🇩🇪
Cara moved to the Netherlands at fifteen and she is here to stay! After all, there is so much to love about it, except maybe the bread (as every German will tell you). Next to finishing up her bachelor's degree in European politics (dry), Cara loves to do yoga, swim, and cook delicious veggie food.

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