I have lived in the Netherlands long enough to notice surprising and unusual things that only happen here. At the same time, I have heard many of my Dutch friends and colleagues feeling bad that there aren’t many things that are typically Dutch. So, I want to take this opportunity to put together my unique observations that may actually qualify as “Typically Dutch”.
© Sven Menschel
1. The typical design of the toilets. As much as I hate having to see my produce every morning, I, in fact, learned during one of my lectures about the real reason why we subject ourselves through that brief period of disgust every day. Apparently, the best indicator of our health lies in our faeces, and it is therefore in fact not smart to flush down that valuable information without inspection. So that typical design acts as a mirror to reflect the condition for your internal body.
2. The Dutch ‘Ticks’. The first time I ever went for a paper review I was shocked to see so many crosses on my answer sheet. It further puzzled me so as to how I passed the paper with so many incorrect answers. After desperately staring into my neighbours’ paper I realised that the Dutch ticks actually look like crosses. After this enlightenment, my life became easy again. To be honest, I like how artistic the Dutch became to spice up Nike’s logo to an inverted gamma looking tick!
3. Speech before the movie starts. Those awkward 10 to 15 minutes where I sit in the theatre, partially understanding and mostly not, the introduction speech given by theatre staff for every movie in Dutch, has always amused me. Trust me, the first time I saw this happen, I actually thought he was telling us about the emergency exits in case of fire or something! But weaved between those Dutch words when I heard ‘Aquaman’ and ‘Sandra Bullock’, I knew it was nowhere near safety instructions. One guy at Herenstraat theatre actually delivers this speech in English when we are there. Cute, right? Kudos for adding the personal touch!
4. Turning Sarah. Another cute tradition to have caught my attention. A mischievous act, put together by the friends/family of ladies who turn 50, is blowing up a big doll balloon and placing them outside the house. This balloon doll is called Sarah and it is big enough to let everyone in the neighbourhood know that you have finally graduated your adulthood and turned 50. Can’t ask a Dutch lady her age? Wait for a few years until you see a Sarah outside their house. You can keep count from then on.
5. The obsolete Goodnight. There exist not 1 but 2 parallel Dutch words for the English greeting Goodnight, Goede nacht & Welterusten. But nobody ever uses any of them! Whether it is 6 o’clock in the evening or 10 o’clock at night, you’ll see each person always wishing the other to enjoy their evening (me included). Thinking about it, I see the point why the Dutch favour evenings more than nights. Now that summer is coming, the sun keeps the sky lit until 10:30 or even 11 at night. Evening is good, Goedenavond allemaal!