Typical Dutch 10 – How to celebrate a birthday in the Netherlands?



Transcript of the video lesson (scroll for more text):

Hi there.

The video lesson for today is about

celebrating a birthday in the Netherlands.

I will teach you all the related vocabulary

and tell you everything about how the Dutch celebrate it.

And guess what…

today is my birthday!

“Ik ben jarig”

And if you are watching this video you are lucky!

Because in the Netherlands it is common,

that the one having the birthday,

is the one who “trakteert!”.

And “trakteren” is to treat.

In this video I explain

how you can get what I give away on my birthday.

Now imagine you are invited “uitgenodigd”

to celebrate a Dutch friend’s birthday party “verjaardagsfeestje”

most likely that will be at his or her home.

It’s much more common than going to a bar or restaurant.

Now you arrive at his front door; what do you need to say?

“Gefeliciteerd”. That means congratulations.

You shake hands and you give three kisses;

The first one on the right cheek.

The second one on the left and the last one on the right.

Please note to kiss the right cheek of the other person,

you move with your head to the left!

Important: although the Dutch are quite liberal on gay marriage;

usually men do not kiss each other (like it is common in some other countries).

Now here is the fun thing.

It is common that you also congratulate people

that are close to the one who has birthday.

And since only close friends and relatives are usually invited to the party;

the result is that everyone is congratulating everyone!

Most foreigners really don’t understand

when they arrive for the first time at a Dutch birthday party

and they are being congratulated themselves!

As you understand in English,

the word “congratulations” is only used with major achievements;

and a birthday is not really that big of an achievement;

but the Dutch use it all the time!

Sometimes people add a wish to “gefeliciteerd”.

Most common is “en nog vele jaren”,

which literally means: and much more years.

Sometimes adding “in een goede gezondheid”

so then you wish someone a long life in good health.

These extra wishes you only give to the one who is having the birthday

– so that’s something you don’t need to do for all the friends –

Always go to the party with a present “een cadeau”.

It should not be something very expensive.

In other countries it may be common

that the friends organise the party and pay for drinks and food.

In the Netherlands it is the one who is having the birthday who serves.

He or she pays for all the food and drinks.

So, there is no need to take your own drinks.

The house of the “jarige job” or “jarige jet”

(that’s what we call the person having the birthday)

is usually decorated with garlands and balloons

“slingers en balonnen”

To decorate is “versieren”.

Of course you get a piece of the birthday cake,

which is called “verjaardagstaart”.

But before cutting the cake into pieces;

we sing a song!

You’ll see the text of the song here.

Now you probably want me to sing that song now.

But hey, it’s my birthday, I should not sing it myself!

The most important part of the song is the end.

So they will forgive you if you don’t sing the first part.

But here are my instructions for the end.

Someone, or a few people will shout “Hieperdepiep”.

Remember that!

That’s the moment you should be prepared for.

Next, everyone shouts “HOERA” and puts one hand in the air.

And this is repeated 2 more times.

Make sure you participate at the “HOERA!”.

Now if you are at a children’s party,

that is the moment that one will blow out the candles;

which in Dutch is: “de kaarsjes uitblazen”.

Then you will get your piece of the cake.

If on your invitation nothing was mentioned about a dinner,

then this is most likely the only food you get.

If you’re hungry, try to get a second piece as fast as possible,

because usually there is not enough for everyone to have an extra piece.

Only at a children’s birthday party

it is quite common that a meal is served,

most likely: “friet met appelmoes en knakworst”

Now that we’ve talked about children, a few other things to mention:

At the end of the party

usually the children get a “snoepzak” (a bag with sweets).

And at school, children also go around in the classroom

to give everyone something (“trakteren”).

Most common is: “prikkertjes”.

Now I have to say: “prikkertjes” and a “snoepzak”

was typical when I was a kid, 30 years ago.

I’ve heard there is a tendency now towards more healthy food (like fruits).

Oh, and if you’re older: at your job – don’t forget to bring a cake.

Now, let’s say you don’t see them in person on his/her birthday.

What should you do?

In Holland it is quite common to send a birthday card:

“een verjaardagskaart sturen”

Don’t forget it, even if you’re not invited to the party.

But of course, nowadays you can also write something on their Facebook

or leave a comment below a video if someone is a Youtuber!

And as promised,

if you are watching this video on my birthday,

and that is the 22nd of October,

then you are lucky!

“Ik trakteer!”

In the description below the video on youtube,

I explain what you can get,

and how you can get it.

But don’t wait… because it is only on my birthday…

If you watch this video on any other day… then there is nothing…

and I only can recommend you to return to this page on the 22nd of october

or to register for the free e-mail notification service

on the website learndutch.org.

Then you will get an email each time a new lesson is published

as well as the “traktatie” on my birthday.

For weekly video lessons to learn Dutch,

subscribe to my youtube channel!

See you there…

“tot ziens”

Typical Dutch 09 – Dutch King’s day (Koningsdag)



Transcript of the video lesson (scroll for more text):


Hallo. Hello.
Mijn naam is Bart de Pau, My name is Bart de Pau,
online docent Nederlands. online Dutch teacher.
Welkom bij ‘Heb je zin?’ Welcome to ‘Heb je zin?’ (are you in the mood?)
Dit is een extra les. This is an extra lesson.
Vandaag praten we over Koningsdag. Today we’ll talk about King’s Day.
Marieke vertelt in de les over deze dag, Marieke talks about this day in the lesson,
de nationale feestdag van Nederland. the Dutch national holiday.
Beste studenten, wij vieren Koningsdag op 27 april. Hello everybody, we celebrate King’s Day on April 27th.
Dat is de verjaardag van onze koning Willem-Alexander. This is the birthday of our king Willem-Alexander.
Behalve… als 27 april een zondag is, Except… when the 27th of April is a Sunday,
want dan vieren we Koningsdag op 26 april. because then we celebrate King’s Day on 26th of April.
Voor Nederlanders is dit nog steeds een beetje wennen. This is something Dutch people are still getting used to.
‘Waarom?’ vraagt Pablo. ‘Why?’ asks Pablo.
Tot 2013 hadden wij een koningin: koningin Beatrix. Until 2013 we had a queen: Queen Beatrix.
Toen vierden we geen Koningsdag, Then we did not celebrate King’s Day,
maar Koninginnedag. but Queen’s Day.
En dat was altijd op 30 april. And that was always on the 30th of April.
Was de koningin op 30 april jarig? Was the 30th of April the birthday of the queen?
Nee, dat was de verjaardag van de vorige koningin, No, it was the birthday of the previous queen,
koningin Juliana. Queen Juliana.
Beatrix, die we nu prinses Beatrix noemen, Beatrix, who we now call Princess Beatrix,
is jarig in januari. has her birthday in January.
Maar januari is veel te koud But January is much too cold
om een nationale feestdag te vieren. to celebrate a national holiday.
Maar nu hebben jullie toch ook een koningin? But now you have another queen as well, don’t you?
Ja, en zij komt net als ik uit ArgentiniÎ! Yes, and she comes from Argentina, just like me!
Dat klopt. That’s correct.
De vrouw van onze koning is koningin Maxima. The wife of our king is Queen Maxima.
Ze komt inderdaad uit ArgentiniÎ. And she is indeed from Argentina.
Zij heeft dus ook Nederlands geleerd, So she learned Dutch too,
net als jullie! just like you!
Hoe vieren jullie die dag? How do you celebrate that day?
De meeste Nederlanders hangen de vlag buiten. Most Dutch people put out the flag.
En vaak trekken ze oranje kleding aan. And they often wear orange clothes.
Oranje is de nationale kleur. Orange is the national colour.
Hmm… ik ben al in de stemming! Hmm… I’m in the mood already!
Waarom is dat eigenlijk? Why is that actually?
Dat komt door onze vader des vaderlands, That’s because of our father of the fatherland,
Willem van Oranje uit de 16e eeuw, William of Orange from the 16th century,
een verre voorvader van onze koning. a distant ancestor of our current king.
Hij heette ‘van Oranje’ omdat hij ook prins was He was called ‘of Orange’ because he was also a prince
van een klein gebiedje in Frankrijk rond de stad Orange. from a small region in France around the city of Orange.
Dat klinkt interessant. That sounds interesting.
En wat doen jullie op die dag? And what do you do on that day?
Heel veel mensen gaan naar Amsterdam. A lot of people go to Amsterdam.
Dat is de beste plek om Koningsdag te vieren, That is the best place to celebrate King’s Day,
maar het is wel enorm druk daar. but it’s incredibly crowded there.
Traditie is de vrijmarkt. A tradition is the ‘vrijmarkt’ (a flea market).
Iedereen die thuis nog oude spullen heeft Everyone who has old stuff at home
gaat op straat zitten goes out to sit on the street
en probeert het voor een paar euro te verkopen. and tries to sell it for a few euros.
Door het hele land zijn er veel feesten en concerten. There are many parties and concerts all over the country.
Vaak is de dag na Koningsdag een gewone werkdag, Often, the day after King’s Day is a normal working day,
dus gaan veel mensen op Koningsdag so on King’s Day many people
gewoon vroeg naar bed. usually go to bed early.
Daarom zijn er ook veel feesten That’s why there are a lot of parties
op de avond voor Koningsdag! the night before King’s Day!
Dat noemen we de ‘Koningsnacht’. We call that ‘Koningsnacht’ (King’s Night).
Is het koningshuis populair in Nederland? Is the royal family popular in the Netherlands?
Jazeker! Yes absolutely!
De meerderheid in Nederland is voor de monarchie. The majority of people in the Netherlands support the monarchy.
En als je van het koningshuis houdt, And if you love the royal family,
dan ben je ‘Oranjegezind’. then you are ‘Oranjegezind’ (a supporter of Orange)
Zo noemen we dat. That’s what we call it.
Nou leuk hoor… Well what fun…
De volgende keer bij Koningsdag Next time on King’s Day
kom ik naar Nederland! I’ll come to the Netherlands!
Gezellig! Great!
Dan ga ik met je mee! Then I’ll join you!
Heb jij al eens Koningsdag gevierd? Have you ever celebrated King’s Day.
Hoe was dat? How was it?
Of kijk je dit filmpje misschien op Koningsdag? Or are you watching this video on King’s Day?
Dan wens ik je een leuke dag toe! Then I wish you a nice day!
Tot de volgende keer bij ‘Heb je zin?’ See you next time on ‘Heb je zin?’
Doei! Bye!

Typical Dutch 08 – Dutch love vocabulary

Sentences to express you like someone (flirting phase)

Nederlands English
Ik vind je leuk. I like you.
Heb je een vriend/vriendin? Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend?
Wil je met me uit? Let’s go on a date.
Ik ben verliefd op jou. I am in love with you.
Wil je verkering met me? Do you want to start a love relationship with me?

Typical opening sentences in a bar

Nederlands English
Wat zit je haar leuk! You have a nice haircut.
Kom je hier vaker? Do you visit this place frequently?
Ik ken je ergens van. I think I’ve seen you before.
Wil je met me dansen? Would you like to dance with me?
Heb je een vuurtje? Do you have a lighter? (outdated)
Mag ik je wat te drinken aanbieden? May I offer you a drink?

Typical sentences at the end of the evening

Nederlands English
Zullen we nog eens afspreken? Shall we meet another time?
Mag ik je telefoonnummer? May I have your phone number?
Zal ik je naar huis brengen? Shall I bring you home?
Breng je me even naar huis? Would you bring me home? (that does not necessarily mean anything; it depends on the next sentences once reaching the door)
– Bedankt voor het thuisbrengen. Welterusten! – Thank you for bringing me home. Good night! (that’s it for the moment)
– Kom je nog even binnen? – Do you want to come in?
– Wil je nog iets drinken? – Do you want (to come in for) a drink?

Inside a love relationship

Nederlands English
Ik hou van jou. I love you.
Hou je van mij? Do you love me?
Hou je nog van mij? Do you still love me?
Ik hou niet meer van jou. I don’t love you anymore.
Wij houden van elkaar. We love each other.
Ik kan niet zonder jou. I can’t live without you.
Wij zijn voor elkaar bestemd. We are made for each other.
Jij bent de liefde van mijn leven. You are the love of my life.
mijn schatje my dear
Wil je met me trouwen? Do you want to marry me?
Ik maak het uit. I end our relationship.

Words related to love:

Nederlands English
de liefde the love
flirten to flirt
het afspraakje the date
de verkering the love relationship
de relatie the (love) relationship
verliefd zijn to be in love
verliefd zijn op iemand to be in love with someone
mijn vriend my (boy)friend
mijn vriendin my (girl)friend
hij is mijn vriend he is my boyfriend
hij is een vriend van mij he is a friend (no love!)
de ware liefde the true love
de ware the one
vlinders in je buik hebben to be in love
is het wederzijds? is the other one in love as well?
een lekker stuk an attractive person
een lekker wijf an attractive girl (not very appropriate language)
de kus the kiss
kussen to kiss
vrijen to make love
veilig vrijen safe sex
met elkaar naar bed gaan to have sex
ik wil met je naar bed I want to make love with you
de liefdesbrief the love letter
een blauwtje lopen to be turned down
liefdesverdriet love sickness
trouwen to marry
het huwelijk the marriage
een huwelijksaanzoek a marriage proposal
scheiden to divorce
een knipperlichtrelatie a relationship of people repeatly breaking up and coming together
een latrelatie a relationship in which people don’t live with eachother



Transcript of the video lesson (scroll for more text):

Hi there. I decided to make a video lesson on Dutch vocabulary and sayings, related to love, in Dutch: de liefde. If you are dating a Dutch girl or boy, then this lesson can be helpful to you. And if you’re not, I wouldn’t skip it, because you never know.

Do you know the expression to have “butterflies in your stomach”. If I am correct, in English it means that you have some nervous feeling, but anything could be the reason. In Dutch it is only related to the feeling you have when you are in love. We say “vlinders in je buik hebben”. If you have this, you are “verliefd” (in love). And to be in love with someone, is “verliefd zijn op iemand”. For example: Peter is verliefd op Karin. Peter is in love with Karin.

But “verliefd zijn” not necessarily means, that you are in a relationship “een relatie). It could be, that it is not “wederzijds” (mutual). This is an important word, that you will hear a lot. The Dutch are curious. If you start telling you met someone nice. They want to know it immediately: “is het wederzijds?”

If it is “not mutual”, we can say “het is niet wederzijds”. Or we say “onbeantwoorde liefde” (unrequited love). And a typical result is “liefdesverdriet” (lovesickness).

But, let’s keep this lesson positive. No worst case scenarios!

Let’s say you like someone. Typical expression: “je bent voor iemand gevallen”. Now what could you do to get a date “een afspraakje”.

First option: ask him or her to go out with you. In Dutch we say “iemand mee uit vragen”. For example, if Peter asks Karin to go out with him; then the correct phrase is Peter vraagt Karin mee uit. Peter zegt tegen Karin: “wil je met me uit?”. Remember that phrase.

Option 2: let’s say it is not someone you know. You are in a bar and you see someone nice. You have to come with a good one liner. That is what we call in Dutch “de openingszin” (the opening sentence). It is very common a Dutch guy here comes up with something original. Typcially some kind of wordplay joke. It is SO common to be original, that actually… Take my advice, if you see someone nice, forget about being original just say “Hoi, ik ben…”. That’ll work as well.

But, what if you don’t have the guts. Well, you could wait for “Valentijnsdag” (Valentines Day). We celebrate it in the Netherlands as well. That’s a moment when many Dutch write Valentijnskaarten (Valentine’s Day Cards) anonymously. I’m actually interested to know from you, because I could not find too much information about it; if sending cards anonymously is also the habit in all other countries; or wether it’s just the shy Dutch. Write it in the comments here in youtube.

Option number 4: Dating-sites and apps. We have them in Holland as well. The four biggest dating sites at this moment: E-matching, Lexa, Relatieplanet and Pepper. Oh yes, and for those who still think, you can trust the Dutch: there is also this one: Secondlove. No need to explain.

Now let’s say that during the date, you find out the other person is really nice. Now you have a job to do. We call that “versieren” (which literally means decorating). It is like seducing, but not necessarily aiming at sex. For that reason I am not so sure if “to hit on someone” or “to make a pass at someone” are translations with exactly the same connotation. Give me your ideas.

Good to know is the difference between “flirten” (we have that word in Dutch now) and “versieren”. Flirten is much more sophisticated, like giving hints or smile. “Versieren” is already an activity.

Also, if you use “versieren” in the perfect tense, it means a positive result. So: Gisteren heeft Peter Karin versierd. If you hear that, it is “wederzijds”. So either they had a one-night stand or they have now “verkering” (a relationship).

I won’t explain adult terminology here. You may be interested in that. Not in this video. Perhaps later, but I will need to study the youtube guidelines first. However: one word you need to know, because that is where it all starts with: “een kus” (a kiss).

Girlfriend and boyfriend. In Dutch it is just “vriend” and “vriendin”, the same word as normal friends. So it depends on the context.
“een vriendin” = just a friend
But “mijn vriendin”, if you say that as a man, you are talking about your girlfriend.

The Dutch usually want to be clear wether they are in a “verkering” or not. The terminology “aan” (on), or “uit” (not anymore) is used frequently. Just like a light bulb. We can say “het is aan” or “het is uit”.

Typical phrase to start a relationship: “wil je verkering met me?”.

And a typical phrase to end it: “Ik maak het uit”.

But we end this lesson of course with the most important phrase: “ik hou van jou!”, I love you.

Good luck with dating the Dutch !

I hope you liked the video. If yes, I’ll be very happy if you give me the thumbs up.

Subscribe to our youtube channel for weekly videos to learn Dutch.

Veel liefs en tot ziens!

Typical Dutch 07 – Prinsjesdag



Correction (7:05): Paleis Noordeinde is where the King works.

Transcript of the video lesson (scroll for more text):

Hi there, my name is Bart de Pau. Today we are going to talk about Prinsjesdag (Prince’s Day). For your “inburgering” (civil integration), you should know all about it. Prinsjesdag is the most important day in the Dutch constitutional monarchy and it is full of tradition. At the end of this lesson you will know how we say in Dutch: this… this… and this… And you will know all about the structure of our democracy and the fiunction of the king.

Welcome to this video lesson in the “Typical Dutch Vocabulary” series; in which we discuss Dutch traditions, food, habits, and culture; and the meaning of all related Dutch words. I post new video lessons every week, here on the learndutch.org youtube channel. Push the subscribe button if you don’t want to miss that!

Now let’s find out all about Prinsjesdag.

When is Prinsjesdag? Prinsjesdag is always on the third Tuesday of September. “De derde dinsdag in september”.

What is Prinsjesdag? It is the day when the government (de regering) reveals its plans for the coming year.

But why is it called Prinsjesdag then? (which means Day of the Princes)

Originally Prinsjesdag was the day when the birthday of the Princes of Orange was celebrated. I will tell you in another video lesson, about the link between Orange, the Royal Family and the Netherlands.

In the 19th century, Prinsjesdag was given the function that it has today: The head of state (het staatshoofd), reads out the governmental plans. The head of state in a constitutional monarchy is the king (de koning). At this moment our king is Willem Alexander. He reads the plans while sitting on a throne; therefore this speech is called: “de troonrede” (literally the Speech from the Throne). His wife Maxima; the queen (de koningin) is sitting next to him.

Where does this all happen? In The Hague (Den Haag). That’s the heart of the Dutch politics (de politiek). The entire complex of buildings is called “Het Binnenhof”. There you can find the Tweede Kamer. This is the parliament, het Parlement; de Eerste Kamer, this is the senate, “de senaat”, the Prime Minister’s office (which we call “het Torentje” = the little tower) and “de Ridderzaal” (literally the knight’s hall). That is the place of the “troonrede”.

“De koning leest de troonrede voor in de Ridderzaal.”

Each “troonrede” starts with the same phrase:

“Leden van de Staten Generaal.”

“Leden” is the plural noun of “lid”, which means member. “De Staten Generaal” is something you should know and it means “de Eerste Kamer” and “de Tweede Kamer” together. So, the members of the senate plus the members of the parliament.

Does the king write “de troonrede” himself? No, he doesn’t. The ministers write it. The function of the king in the Netherlands is mostly symbolic, except for some consultational activities (for example when the government is formed after elections and the weekly conversations that the king has with the prime minister). But, it’s not the king who rules. The Netherlands is a democracy. We vote for our ‘volksvertegenwoordigers’ (people’s representatives), who determine the country’s policies.

The speech from the throne is a summary of the “Prinsjesdagstukken” (“stukken” means: sets of documents). Most important “stukken” are “de rijksbegroting” (the national budget) and “de miljoenennota” – the budget memorandum.

Both are inside a suitcase carried by the minister of Finance on Prinsjesdag. It’s purely symbolic because the entire paper document would be too heavy to carry. Well, perhaps there is a USB-stick inside. Allthough it should be kept secret until “de troonrede”; it is usually leaked beforehand. There is a competition amongst Dutch journalists to reveal it first. Each year they are hunting for it by all means necessary, in the weeks before Prinsjesdag; trying to hack computers, finding a member of parliament willing to talk; or searching garbage bins. It’s a part of the tradition now.

Another tradition is the hats; de hoeden. Female politicians try to draw attention with their hats. They are usually large, and sometimes include a political statement. A detailed analysis of the hats is usually the main subject of many TV programs on that evening.

Back to “de troonrede”.

At the end, the chairman of the assembly shouts “Leve de Koning!”, which means “Long live the King!” And then all the politicians answer hurray three times, in Dutch: “Hoera, hoera, hoera!”. And that goes like this: …

Then the King and the Queen leave, back to their … golden carriage “de Gouden Koets”. Indeed, they didn’t come by car! De Gouden Koets is only used one time per year, on Prinsjesdag. Before and after de troonrede, the King and the Queen do a tour through the city in the carriage. And many lovers of the royal family travel to the Hague to see this, and are waiting there from early morning to be sure to get a place in the first row.

The tour back ends at the palace. The royal family has quite some palaces. Their palace in The Hague, where the King and Queen live, is called: Paleis Noordeinde. And there the Royal Family ends the day with “de balkonscene”, waving to the people from the balcony.

That’s the end of a day with a lot of tradition, but it is the start of the political year! In the week after Prinsjesdag, during the so called “Algemene Beschouwingen”, the members of the parliament start their debates and the government will have to defend their plans. And not only in the parliament, but also around the kitchen table, the Dutch talk a lot about politics. The reason is simple: the Dutch pay quite a bit of taxes, so people are concerned how they are spent.

That’s it. We’re at the end of the lesson, if you watch the Dutch news on Prinsjesdag, you will now understand what it is all about. A list of the words of this lesson you can find back on learndutch.org.

I hope you liked this video and I hope you find it helpful in getting to know all about the Dutch. If yes, please reward it with a thumbs up here in youtube, or share it on social media.

Do not forget to subscribe to my youtube channel for weekly videos to learn Dutch!

See you soon! Tot ziens!

Typical Dutch 06 – Oud en nieuw (New Year)



Transcript of the video lesson (scroll for more text):

Welcome to learndutch.org’s typical dutch vocabulary.

Today we talk about “oud & nieuw”. Which literally means “old” and “new”, but we also say it when we talk about: New year’s eve and New year’s day.

In this video: all the words you need to know if you plan to celebrate it with the Dutch.

To the 31th of December we say “Oudjaar” or “Oudejaarsdag”. The evening is called “Oudejaarsavond”.

The first of January we call “Nieuwjaar” or “Nieuwjaarsdag”.

So an abbreviation of “Oudejaarsdag en Nieuwjaarsdag” is “Oud en Nieuw”.

And what is the typical Dutch way of celebrating this holiday?

The first thing a Dutchman thinks about, is “oliebollen” {plaatje Belgium: Smoutenbollen}. “Een Oliebol” is a kind of doughnut. A Fried pastry, usually filled with raisins. And you sprinkle it with powdered sugar (in Dutch called: poedersuiker). Oliebollen is what we eat at Oudejaarsavond.

And most typically we do that while watching the “Oudejaarsconference” (attention: in this context we pronounce “conference” the French way, if we talk about meetings we sometime use the english word “conference” and then pronounce it the English way). The “oudejaarsconference” is a monologue held by a comedian (in Dutch: “cabaretier” also pronounced the French way), who makes fun about the news of the year.

And when it is 12 o’clock everyone shake hands and kisses eachother, while saying “Gelukkig nieuwjaar” or “de beste wensen”. With a glass of champagne in the hand.

Many people go then outside, for the next traditional activity: to set off fireworks: “vuurwerk afsteken”. In Holland, this is the only moment of the year, when it is allowed.

In some parts of the Netherlands, the alternative “carbidschieten” is more popular. People do carbide (a chemical) in a milk churn (in Dutch: melkbus) and let it explode.

The next day, “Nieuwjaarsdag” starts for the enthousiast part of the population with a “Nieuwjaarsduik”. “Duiken” is diving. You run into the cold sea with an orange woolen hat. Usually for just a few seconds, and then quickly get out of the water.

But the majority of the population is warm at home with the family. Very likely they watch the Vienna New Year Concert (het Nieuwjaarsconcert). For most Dutch the only time in the year they listen to classical music. And after the concert, on TV is broadcasted: “Schansspringen” (ski-jumping). That’s for sure the only time in the year. because we never ever achieved anything in this sport – except that we watch it on New Year.

What is a tradition in Belgium, and not in the Netherlands, is the so called “Nieuwjaarsbrief”. The New Year’s letter, is a letter that baptised children read for their godfather and godmother. After that they get a present.

New Year is the moment that you make promises to improve your behaviour and make plans to develop yourself. In Dutch we call this “goede voornemens” (New Year’s resolutions).

Wat is jouw goede voornemen? is it to improve your Dutch! And if you start making plans to do so… well perhaps this a good moment to think about our Dutch Summer courses. You can read all about it on our website !

Gelukkig Nieuwjaar, en mijn beste wensen voor het komende jaar !

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Typical Dutch 05 – Dutch Sinterklaas tutorial



Transcript of the video lesson (scroll for more text):

Hi, Welcome to the Learndutch.org Dutch Sinterklaas Tutorial.

If you are not Dutch and you want to know, in just 10 minutes, where the most important Dutch celebration of the year is about. Then watch this video. And of course I’ll teach you the words you need to know if you want to celebrate it with the Dutch.

Attention: our neighour countries, have also some sort of celebration of Saint Nicholas, but not to that extent as the Netherlands. This video is about the Dutch version of the Saint Nicholas celebration.

So, this is Sinterklaas. He is the main figure. We also say: Sint Nicolaas. On the 5th of December we celebrate his birthday. But he arrives already in the Netherlands in the middle of November. This is called de “intocht”. That’s another word for arrival, but we actually only use it when we talk about Sinterklaas.

And he arrives on a “stoomboot” (steamboat). From Spain, because that’s where he lives. And we believe that this boat is full of presents. Now is he alone on the boat? As you can see not. Let’s have a closer look, Sinterklaas has a team of helpers. So called, “zwarte pieten” (black petes). Now this might seem a bit strange that we have a celebration where a white man is the boss and the workers are black. At the moment there is indeed a lot of discussion about it, and I come back to that at the end of the video.

Now typical features of Sinterklaas.

He rides on a horse, a “schimmel”. You may know that word as translation of fungus. But it can also mean: a grey horse. And he has a red robe, which we call his “tabberd”.

Other things to recognise Sinterklaas:

He has “een staf” (a gold crosier), een mijter (a mitre), en een “baard” (a beard). And he also has a book: “het boek van sinterklaas”, which contains all information about the children and how they behaved during the year.

During the three weeks that Sinterklaas is in the country, he rides on his horse on the rooftops of the houses. In this period, the children may put once or twice a week, before they go to sleep, a shoe at the chimney. Or at the radiator if the house does not have a chimney. This is called “je schoen zetten”. In the shoe, you do something tasty for the horse, like a carrot or some sugar cubes.

And then, during the night Zwarte Piet climbs down the chimney, takes the carrot for the horse and puts a present in the shoe. This is by the way the reason that Zwarte Piet is black. It is the soot on his face.

It’s not only presents, it’s also sweet things. Typical food that we eat during the Sinterklaas period.

  • pepernoten
  • chocolade-letters (you usually get in your shoe the first letter of your name, unless it is sold out) / oh and by the way – each letter has the same weight, my sister was always jealous on my “B” while she has an “I” as a first name… but no reason, because there is absolutely the same amount of chocale.
  • Marsepein (marzipan)
  • Speculaas (a type of biscuit)

And it no, it’s not all…

  • banketletters (a pastry crust with a sugared almond paste filling)
  • taaitaai (another type of biscuit)
  • borstplaat (as you can see – mainly consists of sugar)

But all those sweet things are only for those who behave !

When I was young, our parents told us how important it was to behave well. Because Zwarte Piet would hit naughty children with his “roe” (bundle of birch twigs) and Sinterklaas would put them in a gunny bag, the so called “zak van Sinterklaas”, to take them with him to Spain. Now with changing views on liberal upbringing, these threats are not anymore part of the story. Spain is also not that bad.

Well, still each child will need to appear in front of Sinterklaas of sit on his knee; while he is reading from his book. Usually a short summary of what the child has achieved during the year, maybe some small recommendations. And of course Sinterklaas usually asks to sing a song. And songs about Sinterklaas we have a lot.

The 5th of December is called “pakjesavond”, a “pakje” is another word for a present wrapped in paper. Usually this is how it happens; the whole family is sitting in the living room. And then suddenly there is someone knocking extremely loud on the door, or even throwing “pepernoten” in the room.

And as a child – that’s when you feel your heart beat. After a few seconds you stand up, walk to the front door, and there is a big bag with presents !

And you understand, for parents this is a yearly request to the neighbour for help.

But how do you celebrate when you get older?

Well, then comes the next tradition. It is the moment in the year when you can show your poetic and creative talent. This is how it works, people who decided to celebrate the evening together draw names. And the name you draw is the one you need to give a present. But you should use all your talents and include a poem, a “sinterklaasgedicht”. I think – it can be compared to what is called Secret Santa in the US and the UK.

Some facts about Sinterklaas.

The figure of Sinterklaas is based on Saint Nicholas of Myra, a saint who lived in the 4th century in what is now Turkey. Now why does our celebration says he is from Spain? Well that has to do with the fact that the body of this saint, was re-burried in Bari Italy, which belonged to Spain at the moment that the celebration became popular.

It is believed that one legend of Saint Nicholas of Myra was bringing back to life three murdered children. So that is why he is the patron of the children.

But he is also the saint of the sailors and fishermen, due to a legend where he helped a boat out of the storm. And therefore many harbour cities have Saint Nicholas a their patron. For example Amsterdam. One of the main chuches in Amsterdam is the Nicholas Church.

Santa Claus is derived from Sinterklaas. Not the other way around. Everytime I tell about Sinterklaas to someone from the US; I get the answer – oh it is your version of Santa Claus. No, Santa Claus is your version of our Sinterklaas.

And then about Zwarte Piet. His history does not date from the 4th century. He first appears in the celebration in 1850, in a book of the Amsterdam teacher Jan Schenkman.

Of course we will never know why he added a black character as the helper of Sinterklaas, and wether the intention was to refer to slavery. There are many theories about it, although none of them is a direct reference to slavery.

One theory is actually the other way around. Zwarte Piet was added to the story in a period that there was euforism about the abolishment of slavery. His character would be symbol for that, refering to the legend of Saint Nicholas who bought free an Ethiopian slave, who then became his helper. But we don’t know.

In any case the story is that Zwarte Piet is black from the soot in the chimney.

At the moment there is a lot of discussion about it in the Netherlands, the so called “zwartepietendiscussie”. Almost any talk show discusses this issue from September till December.

What is the matter. The Netherlands has quite a signifant population of coloured people, because of earlier colonies, like Suriname. A celebration where a white man is the boss of black men who do the work, is a bit strange. Especially if you consider the Dutch coloured people have their historical roots in slavery. It is not so strange that some say, we do not like this element in the tradition.

And here is where the discussion is about. One part of the population wants to change the “zwarte piet” and give him other colours. The other part wants to stick to the tradition.

Now I hope the discussion will slow down a bit. We are Dutch, so we always manage to find a compromise. What the compromise here will be I don’t know, but I guess the figure of Zwarte Piet will gradually change from a totally black character to probably a white person with black soot spots on his face. We will see.

Well that’s it. You now know everything to celebrate Sinterklaas with the Dutch OR to have a traditional zwarte-pieten discussie.

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Typical Dutch 04 – Delfts Blauw (Delft Blue)



Transcript of the video lesson (scroll for more text):

Welcome to learndutch.org’s Typical Dutch Vocabulary. Today we are going to talk about Delfts Blauw (in English: Delft Blue, Delftware or Delft pottery). The most favourite Dutch souvenir. I tell you all you need to know about this Duch porcelain and related vocabulary.

Am I an expert? No, but we’re so lucky with Vanessa! She is a professional guide in Delft and worked many years in the Royal Delft pottery factory. She provided the pictures and wrote the text of this lesson.

Delft is a city in South Holland. It is located here, close to the Hague. It has a lovely typical Dutch historic city center. And Delft is the city of Delfts blauw. Delftware or Delft blue is worldfamous.

It dates from the 17th Century, when a lot of ships of the VOC, the Dutch East India Company (de Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie) went to Asia and brought back all kind of luxury goods, such as Chinese Porcelain. In dutch: porselein.

The VOC was the first multinational in the World. And still today – we have the word VOC-mentaliteit (VOC-mentality); which is the typical behaviour of Dutch people to go around the world and to trade and start businesses everywhere.

The VOC first used the Chinaware during the import as ballast on the ships, but soon it became their main trading activity.

Unfortunately a war in China stopped the import. No longer rich people could fill their tables and closets with this precious Chinese porcelain.

But in Holland, business is business and so in Delft, earthenware factories started to copy the Chinese porcelain with Dutch clay (klei). Yes, you hear it right. We copied Chinese products. So don’t blame the Chinese now, for copying our technology.

The Dutch word for earthenware is: aardewerk. The Delft earthenware-copy looked so much like porcelain, people called it soon “Porcelain of Delft”. More than 30 earthenware factories were established in the center of Delft. At first, the Chinese decorations where copied, but after a while, there was a demand for windmills, Dutch landscapes and other typical Dutch decorations.

Also, Delft blue tiles (tegels) were very wanted in those days. All kind of images were painted on these tiles. The tiles were used in the kitchen, the hallway and fireplace. Ideal for the dutch housewife. Why? Because they were easy to clean!

Today Delft blue tiles are still very popular, as a collector item or with a typical Dutch saying, like here: Oost West, Thuis Best. In lesson 6 of our 250 Dutch proverbs lesson, you can find what it mean. And we have a special word for sayings, quotes and aphorisms that appear on tiles: tegeltjeswijsheid, literally translated as “tile wisdom”.

Although the blue is the most popular colour, other colours were produced as well, like Delft red, Delft green and even Delft white.

Of all the 17th century earthenware factories, there’s only one left: De Porceleyne Fles, The Porcelain Bottle, also named Royal Delft. Since 1653 they produce handpainted Delft Blue products in an authentic way.

The process starts with the clay which is poored in a special pre shaped mould. This plaster mould absorbs the water from the clay. When the mould is emptied, a remaining layer of clay stays behind in the mould. That layer becomes the object. When completely dry, it is taken out of the mould and smoothed with a sponge and a knife. Then, the object is fired at 1200 degrees Celsius/2100 Fahrenheit. When taken out of the kiln, it is finally ready to paint.

Only after 10 years of study, a masterpainter can do this job. They only work with two brushes, water and black paint. Black? Yes black! When the product is completely painted and provided with the companies logo and the initials of the painter, it is glazed and fired for the second time. During this process the real magic happens: the black paint becomes blue, Delft Blue.

After 300 years, Delft Blue is still very popular. In every Dutch household you will find probably something with these famous colours. Maybe in an original way, like an old plate from grandma. Maybe in a modern way like a small Delft Blue house from a famous Dutch airline. For 95 years the KLM distributes the small houses filled with liquor in business class. These houses are replicas from real excisting houses and collected by many people. Most of these existing houses are built in the 17th century, the Dutch

Golden Age there where no bounderies for mercantilism. And it was thanks to this Dutch mercantilism, that Delft Blue became such a typical Dutch product.

Want to know more about Delft? I recommend you to visit it. I spent myself a weekend there last month. Delft has a very rich history, not only Delft Blue. It is the cify of the famous painter Johannes Vermeer. And the Dutch Father of the Fatherland, Willem van Oranje lived here and was murdered here. And so much more to discover.

Vanessa is someone who can guide you around.

Hi, I am Vanessa, I hope you liked the video. I am a professional guide in Delft. Of course the most beautiful city of the Netherlands! If you would like to come to Delft and you want to be guided around, feel free to contact me. You can find my details here. Hope to see you soon!

If you liked the video and you want me to cooperate more often with real professionals to create these type of video lessons, then please give a thumb up in youtube.

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Typical Dutch 03 – de kaasmarkt (cheese market)



Transcript of the video lesson (scroll for more text):

Hi there! Welcome to learndutch.org’s “Typical Dutch Vocabulary”. Each Saturday on our Facebook fanpage, we post about something typically Dutch (traditions, food, habits), and ask your opinion.

This is an extra video lesson to the post about de kaasmarkt (cheese market). Today, I am going to tell you not only about the market, but also about kaas, and other vocabulary related to cheese. After all, we are called “kaaskoppen”. Especially the Belgians like to use this nickname for the Dutch. But attention: the sound is not so positive. It’s not a swearword either. If you use it not to offend someone, then make clear it’s a joke.

Holland has a long history of making cheese, of almost three thousand years. We even had a revolution, not with a hammer and sickle; but with cheese and bread as the symbols!

Now, why is Holland famous for its cheese? The Dutch “polder” is quite wet. That makes it very suitable to have cows for milk production. And we all know, cheese is made from milk “kaas wordt van melk gemaakt”,. On the farm, making cheese, was usually the activity of the farmer’s wife (“de boerin”).

Nowadays the process of making cheese (in Dutch: “kaasbereiding”) is mostly an industrial process. The word for dairy industry in Dutch is “zuivel industrie”. We need the factories to meet an annual turnover of 660 million kilograms of cheese, of which 75% is exported.

But still, there are over 500 “kaasboerderijen”, farms where the cheese is made from the own cow’s milk.

At the moment there are 5 “kaasmarkten” left in the Netherlands. Four of them are touristic (Alkmaar, Edam, Hoorn and Gouda). Here you see how the cheese was traded traditionally. The cheese farmers (“kaasboeren”) used to bring their cheese to the town’s market square, carried on barrows. And you had to be strong to carry one: 160 kilograms carried by two people. By the cities of the cheese markets, you already recognise the two most famous cheese sorts of the Netherlands: Edam and Gouda.

Then there is a 5th cheese market in Woerden. This is a modern trading place for boerenkaas (farmer’s cheese). But once a year, in Woerden there also a traditional kaasmarkt on the town’s square.

Of course you can also buy cheese in the shops or on ordinary markets. But before you buy, you need to know a bit of vocabulary. There are different sorts. And the name is determined by the length of the period of ripening, in Dutch: “rijpen”.

Jonge kaas – 4 weeks (this is quite soft cheese– the longer it matures, the harder the cheese gets)

Jong belegen – 8-10 weeks

Belegen – 16-18 weeks

Extra belegen – 7-8 months

Oude kaas – 10-12 months

Overjarige kaas – > 12 months

During the ripening process, there appear holes “gaten” in the cheese. Such a cheese is called “gatenkaas”. Not to be confused with “geitenkaas” which is cheese from the goat’s milk.

Other vocabulary you need to know with “kaas”:

kaasschaaf – the tool to make slices of cheese to put on your bread

kaasschaafmethode – this is a cost reduction method, where you avoid significant reforms, but you just cut a bit on everything;

kaasbolletje – this is a small ball of cheese, usually 1-2 kilogram

kaasplank – this is a cheeseboard; it can refer to the wood, but also to what is on it; for example in pubs or restaurants as a snack you can order “een kaasplankje”

kaasstolp – this is the glass cover to store the cheese on room temperature

kaasrasp – is the grater to make

“geraspte kaas” – grated cheese

Some other words with cheese:

Pindakaas – peanut butter

Kaassouffle – it is a fried snack, just like the


Lokaas. Lokaas? That has nothing to do with cheese, because you should read it as “lok-aas”, “aas” is in english “bait” something to catch an animal, and the verb “lokken” is “to lure”. But, in the case of a mousetrap “lokaas” can be cheese.

So you know now a lot more about the Dutch cheese. And I got hungry by making this lesson. Ik ga naar de kaasmarkt, en daarna een lekker kaasplankje maken ! What about you? “Eet smakelijk”

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Typical Dutch 02 – bruin café (brown pub)



Transcript of the video lesson (scroll for more text):

Welcome to learndutch.org’s “Typical Dutch Vocabulary”. Each Saturday on our Facebook fanpage, we post about something typically Dutch (traditions, food, habits), and ask your opinion.

This is an extra video lesson to the post about “het bruin cafe” literally translated as the “brown pub”. These are pubs with a very traditional look: a wooden interior that makes you think of a living room. In Dutch, in stead of “cafe”, we can also say “ kroeg”. So, “de bruine kroeg”.

In the Netherlands we like this kind of pub. Especially in Amsterdam; you find there over 500 of these pubs.

So what is the origin of “het bruin cafe”?

In the 19th century, people started to serve alcohol in their “woonkamer” which is Dutch for living room. It was a form of extra “inkomen” (income). Often it happened in a situation when the husband got “werkloos” (unemployed), and then his wife served the drinks.

As there was no regulation, by the end of the century there were so many pubs, that it really became a problem. So the government introduced a “vergunning” (a license). And the “vergunning” to serve alcohol is called “tapvergunning”, derived from the word “tap” (same like “beer tap” in english)

Very typical for the “bruine kroegen” in Amsterdam is that the name of the cafe often is painted on the “ramen” (the windows).

Vocabulary you should know, related to pubs:

–  “een kroegentocht” is the activity of hopping from one pub to the other; usually with having in advance a plan of which pubs to visit and even with a specific sequence

–  “een kroegloper” is a pub crawler, someone who visit pubs regularly,

–  “een stamkroeg” is a local favourite pub where you go frequently

–  in the eyes of “de kroegbaas” (the pub owner) you are then “de stamgast” (the regular customer)

So that’s it. My job is done for today. “Ik ga een borrel pakken in mijn stamkroeg”. I am going to take a drink in my favourite pub. And with this lesson you are ready for the weekend as well. But attention, “drink niet te veel”. Don’t drink too much.

Hope you like this lesson. You now know what is a “bruin cafe”. For more weekly videos to learn Dutch, you subscribe to my youtube channel.

See you there.

Typical Dutch 01 – de windmolen (windmill)



Transcript of the video lesson (scroll for more text):

Welcome to learndutch.org’s “Typical Dutch Vocabulary”. Each Saturday on our Facebook fanpage, we post about something typically Dutch (traditions, food, habits), and ask your opinion.This is an extra video lesson to the post about the windmill. It is a national symbol, so I thought I should tell more about it. We can say “molen” for short or “windmolen”.They appeared first in the Netherlands at the end of the 12th century. At the moment we have almost 1200 windmills, which is much less than the many thousands mills there used to be in the Dutch Golden age, the 17th century.

Of course the windmill was made to deliver the power for all kind of mechanical processes, such as grinding grain, cutting wood, and managing the water levels in “de polder” (the land that is below sea level).

Important word to know, is the part of the mill that catches the wind: “de wieken”. And the person who operates the mill, is called “de molenaar”.

Now, it is interesting to tell, that by the position of “de wieken”, “de molenaar” could tell you something.

First, if the sails are positioned 45 degrees in relation to the ground, this means a long break (“lange rust”), for example during the off season.

If the sails are positioned perpendicular to the horizon, it indicates a short break (“korte rust”).

“Vreugde” is the position: one o’clock of the upper sail. It is symbolic for the start of a new cycle, and applied in case of a birth or a marriage.

“Rouw” is the postion: 11 o’clock of the upper sail. It is symbolic for the end of a cycle, and applied in case someone died.

Of course, if you come to the Netherlands, you must see the windmills. There are two places where you can see a lot of them. On the picture here is: “Kinderdijk”. There are 19 windmills. These are so called “poldermolens”, built to keep the water out of the polder. Kinderdijk is not so far from Rotterdam.

And then there is: “Zaanse Schans”, where you can find 15 windmills, and quite some well preserved typical Dutch historic houses. The function of the windmills in Zaanse Schans used to be industrial, such as wood processing and grinding mills. Zaanse Schans is located close to Amsterdam. And the place is still industrial, but then in terms of the tourist industry. It is third most visited tourist attraction of the Netherlands. For those who have few hours available during a stop over at the Amsterdam airport. There are excursions that leave directly from there.

But what about the future of “wind energie”. In the Netherlands, at this moment “wind turbines” as we say in Dutch, supply 5% of the total electricity consumption. Is that a lot?

Well, the Dutch do NOT have a leading role anymore, like in the 17th century. Our neighbours, the Germans have more than 8% supplied by wind energy.

Now, if there is one thing, the Dutch don’t like, then it is losing against the Germans, so we are working on this; by building large wind farms in the Northsea.

Well that’s it, I hope the information was useful to you. You now know a bit more about windmills and the most important related words.

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