One of the most fascinating things about being in an international LDR is the chance to learn about a completely different culture. Jay is from The Netherlands originally, spent a year while we were dating in Australia, and is now back in The Netherlands. I am from the USA and absolutely love traveling and learning about other customs. I have been really lucky to learn so much about the Dutch through Jay.
One thing that I really loved hearing about was their Sinterklaas (St. Nick) and Christmas festivities! On the evening of December 5th, Dutch kids fill their shoes with straw and a carrot for Sinterklaas’ horse. They always tried to find big shoes because the next morning, St. Nicholas’ Day, the shoes would be filled with goodies! The most iconic gift from Sinterklaas is the chocolate letter. It’s usually the first initial of your name made out of chocolate…yum! Another common treat for this holiday are these ginger-tasting cookies (some covered in different types of chocolate) called Kruidnoten. Just be sure you don’t buy the big bag because these are addicting!
Let’s take a look at the everyday Dutch culture. Dutch people start their morning with a nice nutritious breakfast of bread and…sprinkles? Hagelslag (chocolate sprinkles) are poured atop a piece of buttered bread. Sounds pretty odd, but I think it tastes like a healthier and fresher doughnut! Some other Dutch people begin their day with an open-faced cheese sandwich. (Jay was actually born in Gouda, which is where the cheese originated from…yum!) These aren’t the healthiest options and not all Dutch people eat this, but they are considered staple meals in The Netherlands.
But that’s not all! The Dutch are also a big fan of dessert. Stroopwafels are very common. These are thin wafer cookies (resembling waffles) filled with a gooey syrup. They are best enjoyed when warm and sometimes you can find them covered in chocolate! Another fabulous dessert is the Dutch apple pie.
I think I’ve established that the Dutch enjoy some sweets (and cheese), but what else can I say about this unique culture? Well they love to party! The Dutch are known for spending lots of money on fireworks. When the New Year hits, Dutch citizens launch millions of euros worth of fireworks into the air. These are just average people pouring thousands of euros into their own private displays. It’s on my bucket list to experience NYE in The Netherlands for myself one day.
Another cause for celebration in The Netherlands is King’s Day, or Koningsdag. It was recently changed from Queens Day when Willem-Alexander took the throne. To celebrate, everyone dresses in orange, people fill the canals, there’s a flea market, and live music. It’s basically a huge party! I am hoping to be there for the big bash in 2015 so I can tell you more about it then.
One more thing about the Dutch…they all wear wooden shoes! Okay, well that’s not true. But they do display decorative ones in their homes. Wooden shoes, or klompen, were once created as a protective footwear. Now they are just an iconic symbol of The Netherlands. You can still find them in all touristy destinations if you ever find the desire to clomp around town in them.
Since Jay lived in the USA for about half of his life, he didn’t learn too much from me about American culture. But it is important to note that Dutch people (and lots of Europeans) are not a fan of Hershey’s “chocolate” and a chocolate+peanut butter combo is REPULSIVE to them. More Reese’s for me I guess!
Some other cool things about The Netherlands: bikes, canals, and pannekoek! I love learning new things about different cultures. Hopefully I can learn even more about the Dutch culture since Jay is now living in The Netherlands again! What different cultures have you learned about through your SO? What is the coolest part of your own culture that is different than your SO’s culture?
**DISCLAIMER: This is just a taste of my views on Dutch culture. It is all secondhand accounts of Dutch traditions, so I apologize if these do not reflect the Dutch ideals in a completely accurate way.
Inspired by this LDR Writing Prompt: Culture