Dutch Culture Unique to Other Western European Countries

Dutch culture is unique to other Western European cultures. The Dutch culture primarily inhabits the small country known as Holland or the Netherlands in Western Europe, sitting just north of France. Origins of the Dutch are traced back to an ancient tribe known as the ‘Batavii’ or ‘Batavians’ who are the ancestors for the modern Dutch race, many Batavian cultural traditions are still practiced by the Dutch today especially in the South of Holland.

Southern Holland tends to be much more cultural than the North, people in the South have much stricter families and customs. Holland is primarily a Christian country, with Roman Catholic being the prominent religion. Religion in the Netherlands plays a big part in the day-to-day life of its people, in a Dutch household praying is done before every meal and the family attends church for at least one mass each week, this is usually done on Sunday mornings. People who don’t know much about the Dutch culture find it strange how Dutch people are given two names.

The reason for this is that they use a short name when socialising with people who they don’t know well in day-to-day life. Their other name tends to be more traditional and usually has a meaning, this is used with close friends, family, and within religious practises. Social groups in the Netherlands consist of the following. There are the rich who live in large houses and enjoy plentiful luxuries.

The most common social group within Holland are the people who live in smaller houses, they don’t enjoy too many luxuries as most Dutch people are notorious for saving all their money. Within all social groups of Dutch people a generalisation can be made that in a family men are the ‘bread-winners’, married women usually don’t work which gives them more time to raise the children. Boys also tend to start work at a young age, usually before becoming a teenager their parents will send them off to look for a job so that they can help with money and learn the value of it.

Marriages in the Dutch culture are a happy time in one’s life. The roots of the customary bridal shower originated in Holland. If a Dutch bride is unfortunate enough for her father to not approve of the man she wants to marry, then the it is a custom for the father to not take any part in the wedding celebration and instead the bride is ‘showered’ with gifts and money from her friends so that she can marry the groom without the usual help from her father. Before the day of a marriage the bride and groom host a celebration, traditionally they sit down in thrones under trees for the event, as their guests come to bless them and wish them happiness. A Dutch wedding consists of the reading of scriptures, singings of psalms, the vows being read and the couple making an oath to one another.

After the wedding the guests are invited to the bride’s house for a feast and the new married couple plant lilies and tulips around their house to symbolize what the Dutch call ‘the return of happiness’ a custom meaning that the love for one another is renewed. Christmas in the Dutch culture is celebrated on the 5th and 6th of December. The idea of the western ‘Santa clause’ stems from the Dutch Christmas traditions of ‘Sinterklaas’. The story is that Sinterklaas who lives in Spain, travels by ship from the ocean and on 5th December delivers gifts with the help of Zwarte Piets (who stemmed the idea of elves) to the well behaved Dutch children and coal to those who haven’t behaved. During the Christmas season farmers blow loud horns every evening to celebrate the birth of Jesus and to scare away any evil spirits that might be lurking and at midnight the Catholic population attends a midnight mass to also to celebrate the birth of Jesus. The Dutch Christmas is a time for celebration and happiness.