Dutch Etiquette

How do people in the Netherlands socialize?


Tarod, CC BY-SA 3.0 NL , via Wikimedia Commons

A significant characteristic in the Netherlands are windmills. Nature plays a huge role in Dutch culture. The landscapes seem phenomenal. In this picture, there is a huge windmill sitting on a marsh.

In the Netherlands, there are two main types of etiquette they use. Etiquette for dinning and etiquette for socializing.

There are many tulip fields scattered across the country with different colors and sizes. Some tulips have bright yellow petals with a long vibrant stem. Some tulips are even multicolored, having pink and white in them or even red and orange. These tulip fields are huge, bringing tons of tourists and locals to these fields. (Alessandro Vecchi)

For dinning, as stated by the Netherlands Tourism, breakfast is served first thing in the morning between 6 and 8 A.M, lunch is typically served 12 and 1 P.M, and dinner usually starts around 6 P.M, which is considered early by international standards. However, they also have another interesting event that Americans are not used to. This is tea time. Tea time takes place between breakfast and  lunch (4 to 5 P.M.) It is used as a social even by inviting your friends, family, neighbors, etc. and drinking tea or coffee and a single biscuit or cookie while conversing. During these events, it is considered rude to leave the table during dinner for any reason, whether it is to take a phone call, use the bathroom, etc. In the Netherlands, it is polite to leave your hands on the table while eating. However, you still want to make sure you do not rest your elbows on the table. At the start of a meal, many Dutch citizens take a smaller portions at the beginning of their meal. Then once they finished they will be asked if they would like a second portion. It is always polite to accept this offer for second portion.


There are many special architecture scattered across the Netherlands. Many are like this, resembling castle-like features. Others are eye catching like the most infamous buildings in Rotterdam. Would you be interested in visiting a place like this? (Bert Kaufmann)

For socializing, according to the Netherlands Tourism, Dutch etiquette closely resembles that of the Western world. There are certain traits and practices specific to Dutch citizens. When greeting or departing, a simple, “hello” or “goodbye” will suffice. However, to be more formal the Dutch will either shake hands. If they are share a tight bond with the individual, they kiss their friend’s cheek three times, starting with the the left cheek. During conversations it is important that the Dutch maintain strong eye contact when conversing with others. They are also very direct in their speech. The strong straightforwardness is not meant to come off as rude. Instead, it is taken as being “open.” This is why criticism is welcome, and most Dutch are not easily offended. However, it is important to remembers that this is a generalized guide to etiquette in the Netherlands, showing what the majority of people in the Netherlands do. Not everything is practiced in all areas and by all people.


While cars are considered to be the main transportation in many countries small boats are frequently used by the Dutch to get around town. These are obviously used in more rural areas where there is a lot of nature around and space to replace the roads with water. (Uwe Aranas)

According to the Netherlands Tourism, The Dutch society as a whole is very independent and modern. Many believe in equality for all, yet focus on individuality more than community. In fact, to show equality, the use of the informal “you” ( jij ), is becoming increasingly more popular than the formal “you” ( ). This is meant to show politeness by showing almost no consideration for a person’s status, gender, or age; as stated by in the everyculture.com. Would you fit in with society in the Netherlands?