Dutch Culture and Traditions


In the winter, the Dutch love to cheer on their favourite speed skaters. It is not uncommon to see Dutch people in the northern parts of the Netherlands skating along the canals. Soccer is also another tremendously popular sport in the Netherlands.

Traditional Dress

The Netherlands does not have a national traditional costume. Different costumes are found in different regions of the Netherlands. The Vollendame costume consisting of the black skirt, stripped apron, shawl and a lace hat along with wooden shoes (Klompen) are what most people believe to be the traditional dress.[1]


In the Netherlands, all children from the age of 4 to 12 go to the same kind of elementary school. At the age of 12, depending on the child’s skills and what they want, they can choose from 4 different types of high schools to enter.

VBO – Students enter for 4 years. VBO prepares them for vocational education.

MAVO – Also 4 years in length, is considered a lower general secondary education.

HAVO – This is a higher general secondary education and is 5 years in length. HAVO prepares students for a higher lever of vocational education.

VWO – This level of schooling prepares students for university and takes 6 years to complete.[2]


Traditionally the Netherlands' two largest religions were Catholicism and Protestantism. As of 2003, 30% of the Dutch population still considers themselves to be Catholic and 20% view themsels as Protestant. 6% of the population follows the Muslim religion and 42% of the population claim to follow no religion.[3]


  • New Year's Day (Nieuwjaarsdag) - January 1
  • Good Friday (Goede Vrijdag) - [Not an official holiday]
  • Easter Monday (Tweede paasdag)
  • King's Day (Koningsdag) - April 27
  • National Remembrance Day (Dodenherdenking) – May 4 [Not an official holiday]
  • Liberation Day (Bevrijdingsdag) – May 5 [Official holiday only every 5 years]
  • Ascension Day (Hemelvaartsdag)
  • Whit Monday (Tweede pinksterdag) - The day after Whitsunday
  • Sinterklaas - December 5 [Not an official holiday]
  • Christmas (Eerste Kerstdag) – December 25
  • Tweede Kerstdag (Tweede Kerstdag)– December 26

Koningsdag or King’s Day marks the birthday of the King Willem-Alexander. It is celebrated on April 27. This day is celebrated with street parties and wearing orange.

Whit Monday comes seven weeks after Easter Monday and usually marks the beginning of the disciples missionary work.

Sinterklass was an archbishop who would give his wealth to the poor. In the Netherlands, Sinterklass comes from Spain on a horse with his assistant Swarte Piet giving presents and candy to children. Children fill their shoes with carrots and hay for Sinterklass’ horse. Spiced cookies, known as Taai-taai, are popular during this holiday.

Remembrance Day is a solemn occasion to remember those who died in World War 2. At 8pm the Dutch gather at local war memorials to commemorate the fallen and to observe 2 minutes silence.[4]

Liberation Day is a more joyous occasion to celebrate the end of German occupation. On this day, the Dutch look toward the future instead of looking in the past.[5]

Dutch Cuisine

Traditionally, Dutch supper consisted of boiled potatoes, vegetables and a meat selection. Indonesian influenced meals were also popular. Raw herring served with raw onion is extremely popular in the Netherlands. Herring and onion are sold everywhere by street vendors. Listed below are a few food related Dutch traditions.[6]

Poffertjes – similar to mini pancakes doused with sprinkled sugar.

Hagelslag – chocolate sprinkles usually eaten on bread.

Muisjes - Aniseeds with a colored outer layer of sugar. When a new baby is born the mother will serve either pink (girl) or blue (boy) "muisjes" on pieces of rusk.

Nasi Goreng – Indonesian influenced rice dish. Bami, is another style but uses flat noodles instead of rice.

Boerenkool met worst – boiled potatoes mashed together with kale and a Dutch sausage that is simmered on the top while cooking.

Kroketten – rolled up left over meat in a paste rolled in breadcrumbs and then fried. Very popular snack shops in the Netherlands sell them and you can get them in vending machines at the train stations.

Keropok (Kroepoek) – Is an import from Indonesia. It is basically a shrimp or fish flavoured cracker.

- Contributed by Jeanette Peetsma

  1. Foto de Boer. “Traditional Dutch Costumes.” www.dutchcostumes.nl
  2. Holland.Com. Practical Information. “Education.” www.holland.com
  3. Holland.Com. Practical Information. “Religion.” www.holland.com
  4. Wageningen. “Remembrance Day in the Netherlands.”
  5. Wageningen. “Liberation Day in the Netherlands.”
  6. Holland.Com. “Dutch Food and Recipes.” www.holland.com and The Holland Ring. “Dutch Food and Eating Habits” thehollandring.com/food