ACCESS NL > Living in the Netherlands > Dutch life and culture > Are there any Dutch traditions I should know about?

Dutch life and culture

Print FAQ

Can you tell me the most important things about Dutch etiquette?

Are there any Dutch traditions I should know about?

The most important Dutch traditions are:

  • Carnaval (carnival) is most celebrated in the Catholic regions, mainly in the southern provinces such as North Brabant and Limburg. The Dutch Carnival is officially celebrated on the Sunday through Tuesday preceding Ash Wednesday
  • Elfstedentocht or Eleven cities tour (200-kilometer skating tour on real, natural ice along the 11 cities and villages in Friesland, a province in the northern part of the Netherlands). The last one was held on 1997 but Dutch people still hope that the canals will froze again in winter to hold this tour.
  • Koningsdag (King’s Day) is officially celebrated on 27 April (the king’s birthday), unless it falls on a Sunday. On King’s Day there are celebrations throughout the Netherlands
  • Dodenherdenking (Remembrance of the Dead) on 4 May. It commemorates all civilians and members of the armed forces of the Kingdom of the Netherlands who died in wars or peacekeeping missions since the outbreak of World War II
  • Sinterklaas (Saint Nicholas) on 5 December. In the days leading up to 5 December (starting when Saint Nicholas arrives by steamboat in late November, all the way from Madrid), young children put their shoes in front of the chimneys and sing Sinterklaas songs. On the evening of 5 December, Sinterklaas brings presents to every child who has behaved well in the past year (in practice, just as with Santa Claus, all children receive gifts without distinction)
  • Beschuit met muisjes  (rusk with candy coated aniseed) is a widespread tradition when people come to visit a new-born baby and its mother. Beschuit is a typical Dutch biscuit, muisjes are sugared anise seeds. For a boy the muisjes are blue and white in colour, while for a girl they are pink and white.

Some of these traditions are also public holidays in the Netherlands.

What are the public holidays in the Netherlands?