Dutch habits

When getting accustomed to life in the Netherlands and interacting within society, you will sooner or later get involved with the habits of Dutch culture. For example, everyone pays for their own consumptions during an outing, hence the term “Go Dutch”. Of course, activities are scheduled weeks in advance and always start on time. Life over here is structured right down to the minuscules details. In this blog we shall dive into some of the typical Dutch habits when it comes to greetings and celebrations.

In the Netherlands it is common to greet each other with three kisses on the cheek. It is also customary to do the same again when saying goodbye. It is a courteous way of saying hello and farewell. This is often done by men and women when meeting women (when men greet each other, they give each other a handshake or fist bump). If you do not feel comfortable receiving kisses, it is acceptable to politely decline and go for a handshake instead.

Hosting a Birthday party
A typical Dutch birthday will include coffee, tea and cake plus “borrelhapjes”. When you are the birthday girl/boy, you are expected to supply your own cake. Usually, Dutch people celebrate their birthdays at the comfort of their own home. All guests are seated in a circle. During the tea and cake, usually you are expected to cut the cake and go around a circle to serve your guests. Just as with everything else, you are advised to plan your birthday party way in advance so that everyone can fit it into their schedules.

You provide everything yourself
In many countries around the world, it is common that people will treat you to food and drinks if it is your birthday. In the Netherlands however, you are expected to bring treats for your colleagues at work when it is your birthday.

Attending a birthday party
In English we wish someone a happy birthday. In Dutch, the word happy birthday is translated as congratulations. The phrase is “gefeliciteerd!”. When you attend a birthday celebration it is expected of you to congratulate everyone else at the party and introduce yourself and after that it’s small talks about work, weather, and sports while snacks are going round or put on the table.

Are you a nurse that is seeking to gain new work experience abroad in the Netherlands?
The EMTG program may be suitable for you. Not only will we provide you with free Dutch language and culture courses, we will also place you in a healthcare institution and arrange for housing. It is a cozy, tolerant and open society with friendly people and their own habits. You can contact your local recruiter for more information.