9 Dutch habits you should be aware

9 Dutch habits

9 Dutch habits you should be aware

9 Dutch habits you should be aware

(Last Updated On: May 22, 2024)

Dutch culture, characterized by its rich history, unique traditions, and modern sensibilities, can be quite intriguing and sometimes perplexing to outsiders. To navigate Dutch society effectively, it is essential to understand some distinctive habits that define everyday life in the Netherlands. These habits, deeply rooted in the country’s historical and cultural landscape, encompass various aspects from food and personal interactions to art and public behavior.

One of the most distinctive Dutch habits is their approach to food, particularly the tradition of eating raw herring. This culinary practice, dating back to the 16th century, is a beloved part of Dutch food culture. During festivals such as King’s Day, locals and tourists alike can be seen enjoying herring with onions and pickles. This tradition, while strange to some, highlights the Dutch appreciation for simple, fresh, and locally-sourced food.

Another aspect of Dutch culture that might surprise newcomers is the Dutch proclivity for maintaining a clear division between personal and professional life. Dutch people are known to be private individuals who value their personal space and confidentiality. This cultural trait is evident in Dutch business culture, where direct eye contact is appreciated as a sign of honesty and engagement, yet discussions about personal matters are often considered inappropriate in professional settings. This separation extends to social interactions as well, where Dutch people might appear reserved and are cautious about divulging personal information unless they have established a close relationship.

Art and literature have also played a significant role in shaping Dutch culture, with the Netherlands producing some of the most influential artists and writers of the 20th century. The Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh is renowned worldwide for his contributions to art movements, and his works continue to inspire. In literature, authors like Louis Couperus, Harry Mulisch, and Cees Nooteboom have left an indelible mark with their profound and thought-provoking works. Understanding the cultural impact of these figures can provide deeper insights into the Dutch appreciation for creativity and intellectual pursuits.

The Dutch habit of prioritizing efficient public transport and cycling is another noteworthy aspect of everyday life. Dutch cities, especially the city center, are designed to accommodate bicycles, reflecting the country’s commitment to sustainability and healthy living. This emphasis on cycling might come as a culture shock to those used to car-centric cities, but it is a testament to the Dutch focus on practicality and environmental consciousness.

The central government of the Netherlands plays a significant role in maintaining the country’s infrastructure and public services. The Dutch government ensures that public transport systems are well-managed and accessible, contributing to the high quality of life. This central organization extends to various aspects of society, including support for the arts and preservation of Dutch traditions.

Language is another crucial element of Dutch culture. While Dutch is the official language, the Netherlands is a multilingual society where many people are proficient in English, making communication easier for international visitors. However, learning basic Dutch phrases can be beneficial and is often appreciated by locals.

Dutch comic book tradition, although less globally recognized, is an integral part of the country’s cultural tapestry. Comics serve as a medium for storytelling and social commentary, reflecting Dutch humor and creativity.

The influence of historical and modern elements is evident in Dutch habits. From the 17th century’s Golden Age, which saw an explosion of art and commerce, to the pragmatic and open-minded attitudes of the 20th century, Dutch culture is a blend of tradition and progress. Laurie Boucke, an author who has written extensively about Dutch society, highlights these nuances, providing valuable insights into the Dutch way of life.

Understanding Dutch habits requires an appreciation of the country’s history, cultural practices, and societal values. Whether it’s savoring raw herring, navigating the subtleties of personal and professional interactions, or embracing the country’s robust cycling culture, these habits offer a window into the unique and fascinating world of Dutch life. By being aware of these customs, one can better navigate the cultural landscape of the Netherlands, fostering more meaningful connections and experiences.

If you’re doing business in the Netherlands you should be aware of the most common Dutch habits and acct accordingly. As with everything, being there in a foreign country not knowing some of their culture and their habits might get you in emotional trouble.

9 Dutch habits you should consider

What is interesting about Dutch habits and people? If you want to know, read on.

3 kisses for strangers

The Dutch people especially like to kiss people they do not know yet. Their logic is counter-intuitive. When you meet strangers in the Netherlands, you give them three kisses. When you have become friends, two kisses. When he/she has become a close friend, you give them only one kiss. Who would have known this unless he spent a bunch of time in the Netherlands? This is one of the Dutch habits you should remember when traveling or doing business there.

No credit

Dutch banks only use Maestro cards for all bank accounts, which means no access to MasterCard or Visa. This discourages them from shopping online since Maestro cards do not have account number. This basically means that foreigners who try and purchase anything using Visa or MasterCard are screwed. Furthermore, if one wishes to shop online by leaving the Netherlands, you have to undergo the usual tedious process. Usually this means showing your income from the last 2-3 months, but in the Netherlands it means showing your permanent work contract. Ultimately, you cannot get a MasterCard for the first few years of working in the Netherlands.

3 kisses for strangers
4-day week

4 week days

Working four days per week is a norm in the Netherlands. If you say you want to work more than that, people will think you are weird. Furthermore, when a full time job is pushed, HR will not hesitate to ask you the second time, are you sure? Some might say the best work-life balance happens in the Netherlands, and they would be right. Who wouldn’t want to work only 4 days a week? I surely would enjoy that!

Insure everything

People from the Netherlands are quite attracted to good insurance, may it be health, car, or house. They even have insurance for times when they run out of vegetables. However, the Netherlands is one of the safest places in the world, so they would not really need much insurance in the first place. They do ensure just about everything though.

5 more Dutch Habits


Here are 5 more Dutch habits you really need to pay attention to.

Expensive birthdays

The norm outside the Netherlands entails people to bring presents and a cake for the celebrant. However, the celebrants are expected to bring the cake and presents for the people to enjoy. You want to party outside? Everyone’s drinks are on you.

Sun terraces

Some say Amsterdam is as sunny as London, and that’s not saying much. Even when it is 5 degrees outside, Dutch people will not stop to go out just for that single ray of sun. Some will even arrange their sofas every few minutes just to catch that sun angle right.

Bread addiction

Some assume that Dutch people may have an addiction to drugs since they are decriminalized locally. However, the culprit to their addiction really is bread.  Most Dutch people love it to the point of eating it at least 3 times a day. Also, they love their sandwiches, but they always eat them with their forks and knives. If you eat them with your bare hands, you will get you stared at.

2 cycles

It is the norm for the Dutch people two have two or even more cycles. One is usually dirty and used, while the other is usually expensive and new. They would use the former to get to work while the latter is only used during the weekends and leisure activities.

“Korting” is king

The Dutch people always enjoy a great “korting”, which means discount. The Dutch always try to save their money, so they never really buy anything that is not discounted. It does not matter if you need that item or not. If you get a bargain from it, it should be bought right away.

Three Strange Dutch Habits


Dutch culture, with its deep historical roots and unique traditions, often presents a culture shock to newcomers. One intriguing habit is the Dutch preference for eating raw herring, a staple in Dutch food culture, particularly enjoyed with onions and pickles. This practice dates back to the 16th century and remains a beloved tradition, especially during festivals like King’s Day.

Another peculiar aspect is the Dutch custom of maintaining strict separation between public and personal life. Dutch people are known to be private, often viewing personal matters as highly confidential and seldom sharing details beyond close friends and family. This privacy is mirrored in their business culture, where direct eye contact is valued, yet personal inquiries are generally avoided. Lastly, Dutch cities boast an impressive public transport system, but what might surprise visitors is the Dutch penchant for using bicycles as the primary mode of transport, even in the bustling city center.

These habits, along with the country’s rich history and contributions to art movements through figures like Vincent van Gogh and authors such as Cees Nooteboom, Harry Mulisch, and Louis Couperus, paint a fascinating picture of everyday life in the Netherlands.

The Dutch may be a peculiar bunch, but their strange habits often come in handy. When visiting the Netherlands, you might come across some particularly Dutch habits that you don’t really see in people elsewhere. Below is a list of some Dutch habits you might not be aware of.

Overuse of the Dutch word ‘Dus.’

The overuse of the Dutch word “dus” (meaning “so” or “therefore”) is a notable linguistic habit in the Netherlands. It functions as a conversational filler, much like “um” or “you know” in English, and can be heard frequently in everyday speech. This pervasive usage reflects the Dutch preference for clear and direct communication, as “dus” often serves to connect thoughts and provide logical conclusions in conversations.

While it may seem redundant to non-native speakers, for the Dutch, it helps maintain the flow of dialogue and underscores the rationale behind their statements, embodying their pragmatic and straightforward communication style.

In English, the Dutch word ‘Dus’ means ‘so.’ And the Dutch use it a lot. A lot of their sentences begin with ‘Dus,’ and they may use it in a sentence repetitively.

Lots of Mayonnaise

Another strange habit that stands out in Dutch culture is the ubiquitous use of mayonnaise, particularly as a condiment for fries. Unlike the typical preference for ketchup or vinegar seen in other countries, the Dutch generously douse their fries in mayonnaise, often creating a creamy, rich topping that might seem excessive to outsiders.

This practice is so common that it has become a staple of Dutch food culture, reflecting the Dutch penchant for hearty, comforting foods. Much like the tradition of enjoying raw herring, the love for mayonnaise on fries is a distinct culinary habit that highlights the unique and sometimes surprising tastes of the Netherlands.

The Dutch love their mayonnaise. They pile it up on their fries, and every chip shop in the Netherlands adds it to your fries without your asking them to.

Queuing is a Foreign Concept

One of the three strange Dutch habits that often surprises newcomers is the notion that queuing is a foreign concept. In Dutch culture, the practice of forming orderly lines is not as deeply ingrained as it is in many other countries. Whether waiting for public transport, in a city center shop, or at a popular King’s Day event, the Dutch tend to cluster rather than queue.

This behavior can be perplexing to visitors accustomed to structured queues, resulting in a culture shock. It reflects the Dutch emphasis on efficiency and directness, where getting to the front quickly is often prioritized over following a formal queuing system. This habit, alongside the Dutch love for raw herring and their practice of direct eye contact, underscores the unique and sometimes surprising aspects of everyday life in the Netherlands.

The Dutch will do anything to break the queue and get right there in front of the line. Boarding a train could be a nightmare in the Netherlands when it’s every man for himself and no boarding queue whatsoever.

There are other Dutch habits but the ones above will get you by without being stared at, no matter if you do business or just travel in the Netherlands.

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