There are elements of the Dutch culture that are exclusively associated with this region. So what do you encounter when you move from the UK?
Dutch is the official language and is spoken by approximately 90% of the population. 453,000 people, or 2.2% of the population, speak Frisian as their first language. Mainly in the northern province of Friesland, where it is considered an official language.
There are several dialects of Lower Saxon, recognised as regional languages in the north-east. There are various regional dialects in Limburg, spoken in the south-eastern part of the country. Turkish and Arabic are also spoken in the Netherlands, each by about 0.6% of the population. All this makes Dutch culture quite diverse.
English is the official language in special municipalities – Saba and Sint Eustatius (BES/Bonaire islands in the Caribbean). There is a tradition of language learning in the Netherlands: about 89% of the total population speaks English well, 70% German, 29% French and 5% Spanish.
Tulips, liquorice, cheese and bicycles: these are some familiar features of Dutch culture. And what are the traditions?
Elfstedentocht – is an ice-skating event in eleven towns in Friesland (a province in the Netherlands) that is about 200 kilometres long. Every year, it depends on the weather conditions whether everything goes according to plan: there should be enough ice on the water and not too much snow. The last full tour was held in 1997.
Croquettes and frikandels – these are typical Dutch snacks. You can make them at home or order them from a bar.
Eating herring – there are many fish stands in the Netherlands where you will always find tasty herring. Dip the Dutch herring in the sauce first and then eat the fish, holding it in your hand by the tail.
Chips with peanut sauce, mayonnaise and onions = patat oorlog – “Patat Oorlog” is not typically Dutch, of course, but the fries themselves are. Ordering this kind of thing for dinner is normal here. In Holland they sometimes also eat fries with apple sauce and mayonnaise!
Goulash – a typical Dutch dish is goulash. With it, potatoes and vegetables are cooked and prepared together. This dish is usually served with smoked sausage, meatballs or bacon steak and a hole is made in the middle for the sauce.
Bicycle – a typical feature of Dutch culture. There are more bikes than people in the Netherlands. Residents often use the bicycle because they need to get somewhere. Bike lanes and tunnels throughout the city are a well-known phenomenon. Even in primary school, pupils have to pass a national road test on a bicycle.
King’s Day – a big holiday in Dutch culture is King’s Day. Celebrating the King’s birthday is a big event and almost everyone wears orange then. Several festivals are organised and everyone has the day off work.