Five Dutch Traditions you haven’t heard of

Tuesday 27 March 2018 by Jessica Mendoza Five Dutch Traditions you haven’t heard of...


Eating deep fried donuts on New Year’s Eve

On New Year’s Eve in the Netherlands, it is tradition to indulge in deep fried sugary donuts known as ‘Olibollen’ which literally translates as ‘oil ball’… and is more delicious than it sounds. The calorific ritual began hundreds of years ago, when the Dutch believed eating Olibollen would protect them from an evil pagan goddess named Perchta.  It was believed that the goddess would fly round during the 12 days of Christmas accompanied by evil spirits searching for food to take from those who had already eaten and using her sword to slice their stomachs. So… we advise that you don’t take any risks if you are heading to the Netherlands over the festive period and eat as many sugary donuts as possible!


Ignoring emergency alarms (on the first Monday of the month)

If you happen to be in the Netherlands on the first Monday of the month and a terrifying alarm sounds through the country at noon, do not fear – everything is under control (hopefully). There is a scheduled test at this time every month, so you’ll probably notice that the Dutch simply ignore it. Keep this in mind, otherwise you may find yourself running around and wondering why nobody is phased by a national emergency…


Eating very salty liquorice

If you mingle with the Dutch for long enough, sooner or later you will likely be offered some salty liquorice or ‘drop’. This is not to be confused with standard, traditional liquorice that is arguably quite tasty. The Dutch consume the most liquorice in the world and each person eats around four pounds a year! Not only do they consider it to be a delicious treat, but it has also been used as an anti-inflammatory medicine for centuries. In 2008, the Dutch were eating so much that the European commission had to issue a warning - as too much can be toxic for the liver and cardiovascular system.


Birthday Congratulations Gefeliciteerd“!

If you happen to be lucky enough to be invited to a birthday party during your time in the Netherlands, then don’t be surprised when everyone there turns and congratulates you. This will be confusing if you aren’t the birthday person - and you may actually start to question whether they are congratulating you for having the bravery to turn up to the bizarre soiree. This is a long-standing Dutch tradition - everyone congratulates everyone including the person whose birthday it is. So you’d better start practicing the Dutch word for congratulations, “Gefeliciteerd “!



Sinterklass, is Santa Claus’ Dutch imposter. He rides a horse instead of a sleigh and arrives on the 5th of December (a little early you could say), delivering presents to children. This tradition began 700 years ago when a bishop saved three miserable girls from a life of prostitution by leaving them three bags of gold in the night. Traditionally, children leave their shoes out and hope to receive little treats – and rumour has it that naughty children receive a potato rather than something nice.

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