Dutch Quirk #46: Never close their curtains

HomeCultureDutch Quirk #46: Never close their curtains

It’s happened to the best of us. You’re walking along, innocently minding your own business, your eyes absent-mindedly turn towards a window and BAM — you just saw someone’s bare ass cheek.

You would wonder why this person didn’t decide to — I don’t know — maybe draw the blinds before they hopped out of their clothes and into their birthday suit?

What is it?

This phenomenon is fairly self-explanatory. Walk through almost any Dutch town or neighbourhood, and you’ll find that the experience is quite similar to a visit to an aquarium.

Instead of being met with curtains or blinds, most Dutch windows will reveal various inner lives and ecosystems — often decked out with some very IKEA furniture.

While this is great for some interior decor inspo, it’s not so fun when you’re met with a scene that probably could have remained private — bonus points if you make awkward eye contact.

Why do they do it?

There are many theories as to why the Dutch are happy to take the risk of flashing a complete stranger. Perhaps it’s their tolerance (it’s an ass cheek, never seen one, eh?) or perhaps their directness (I don’t mind making eye contact with you, in fact, let me hold it.)

But what many Dutchies would argue is simple: I have nothing to hide. And there’s a bit of history behind that statement.

The Netherlands was once a very Calvinist country. Part of the religion’s policy was that you had to prove to people that you were a good person — someone who was predetermined to wind up in the good place above.

And how did you do this? By showing that you had nothing to hide! Closed curtains implied that there was something sneaky happening that you had to hide from your neighbours. And while many Dutch people may claim to be atheists nowadays, one theory is that this habit just stuck.

Why is it quirky?

If you’ve ever lived in basically any other country, you’ll get why this is a quirky move by the Dutch.

Many countries keep the eyes of passersby out using curtains, window stickers, and blinds — because who wants to make eye contact with a stranger while you’re lying burrito-style in bed?

The Dutch, apparently.

Should you join in?

It’s less of a question of should you join in and more a question of when will you join in? In my experience, it took just a few months to grow used to the fact that I am observable from three different angles when chilling in my studio.

Given that the Netherlands is such a tightly packed country, you’ll very quickly find that if you want to let a bit of sunlight in, you also need to let your neighbours in. You may even get used to the occasional eye contact and maybe even you will be the one to flash a few innocents.

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

Feature Image: Neirfys/Depositphotos

Sarah O'Leary 🇮🇪
Sarah O'Leary 🇮🇪
Sarah originally arrived in the Netherlands due to an inability to make her own decisions — she was simply told by her mother to choose the Netherlands for Erasmus. Life here has been challenging (have you heard the language) but brilliant for Sarah, and she loves to write about it. When Sarah is not acting as a safety threat to herself and others (cycling), you can find her sitting in a corner of Leiden with a coffee, trying to sound witty.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Yeah I did find that hilarious when visiting my family in Ijmuiden, but no more crazy than refusing to go out for a drink before 11pm in the evening….. on a week night as no one would be there yet!

  2. I would find the experience wonderful after living in a society that does have to hide behind a curtain. Bravo for the Dutch 🙌🏼

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