How would you describe the essence of the Dutch, those enigmatic people with whom you are sharing your home away from home with? Many writers have attempted to do so in books, articles, speeches, and television documentaries. However, it may have all been in vain.
Even the queen of the Netherlands has admitted to struggling with pinpointing the Dutch national identity. In fact, 10 years ago, when Queen Maxima was still a princess, she infuriated many Dutch people when she stated in a speech: “’De Nederlander bestaat niet.” (the Dutchman does not exist). Her conclusion was that the Netherlands is too multifaceted to be stereotyped.
Now, generally, Ruud Hisgen agrees; however, this article will attempt to capture some truths about the Dutch by examining five short expressions and sayings. These might come in handy when you are in a meeting, at a reception or while chatting with the Dutch, so learn them by heart.
1. Zuinigheid met vlijt (Thrift and diligence)
Many Dutch people grew up hearing this saying. Be frugal, work hard! The Dutch uphold these two virtues above everything. The first virtue is “soberheid” or “zuinigheid” (austerity), which should not be confused with “gierigheid” (stinginess). The Dutch praise economical talents, however, they can be very generous when they need to be.
While it may be true that many Dutchies are not fond of parting with their money, there are notable exceptions. Just think of the many times Dutch people have collected big sums of money for charity, when people somewhere in the world experienced a disaster.