Dutch Quirk #57: Pay for everyone at their own birthday party

HomeUltimate List of Dutch QuirksDutch Quirk #57: Pay for everyone at their own birthday party

Congratulations, it’s your birthday! You can expect presents, hugs, oh — and a fat bill for whatever it is you want to do on your special day.

You’re probably as confused as we are about this highly un-Dutch quirk. Let’s break it down, and get to the bottom of paying for everyone at their own verjaardagsfeest (birthday party).

What is it?

You might assume that one of the perks of being the birthday kid is that people throw themselves in front of you to catch the bill before it reaches your hesitant hand.

You might assume this because you didn’t grow up in the Netherlands.

READ MORE | 14 downright stingy things Dutch people do

Dutch people tend to pay for themselves, and everyone else when they invite people to celebrate another turn around the sun. In fact, Dutch people even tend to bring their own cake to their b-days. Frown-worthy says some, practical and logical says Dutchies.

Why do they do it?

This puzzling habit might stem from a wish to thank your guests for showing up, a courtesy to the people who just spent hours of their lives in the dreaded “birthday circle“.

And let’s be honest, if your birthday is between the months of September and April, chances are, your guests had to fight through lashing rain and howling winds just to get to your celebration. The least you can do is pay for their drinks.

READ MORE | The full guide to celebrating your birthday in the Netherlands

Also, some Dutch people might claim that their system is simply easier than the alternative: having 20 people split the bill between them and argue over who bought what.

Why is it quirky?

In many other cultures, it’s common for the guests to cover the costs of food and drinks when it’s someone’s birthday. You know, to treat the birthday kid.

Dutch people say nee bedankt (no thanks), it’s way easier to have a designated wallet whenever you’re invited to celebrate someone.

READ MORE | Dutch Quirk #39: Say happy birthday to everyone

And we have to admit, it’s pretty convenient to simply glance at your bathroom birthday calendar, and immediately know who’s paying for dinner.

The most quirky part of this tradition, however, is that voluntarily paying for a whole bunch of people can seem a little un-Dutch. We are, of course, talking about the infamous concept of Dutch stinginess.

Since when did Dutch people open their wallets up wide to pay for more than they had to? Actually, the tradition of paying for everyone on your birthday might stem from this very behaviour.

READ MORE | 9 Dutch birthday traditions that’ll confuse the heck out of internationals

If you ask Dutch people to pay for themselves on your birthday, the ever so slim chances are that some skip your celebrations for financial reasons. Some people might prefer not to spend money on someone else’s big day. Is paying for everyone, in fact, a result of the stingy culture the Dutch are so known for?

Should you join in?

As is often the case with quirky Dutch behaviour: you should join in, if you want to blend in. Also, if “making Dutch friends” is still on your to-do list, you might want to try out this quirk, as nothing attracts happy Dutchies like the prospect of a free meal.

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

Feature Image:Depositphotos
Juni Moltubak
Juni Moltubak
Juni moved to the Netherlands after realizing how expensive tuition fees in the UK are, and never regretted her choice of studying in The Hague. After three years of Political Science, she is ready for a new adventure — an internship at DutchReview! When you don’t see her typing on her laptop she can be found strolling around Haagse Bos or sitting in her lovely garden scrolling through interior design TikToks.


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