Number one in the top five of Dutch conversation topics is the fickle weather. Breek het ijs(break the ice) by making a remark about the weather. Any remark will do. Try it out. Ruud Hisgen discusses a few expressions that can come in handy.
1. Mooi weertje, vandaag (lovely weather eh)
These three words will do the trick come rain or shine (weer of geen weer). You could vary them: “lekker weertje, vandaag”. When it is pissing it down, you can use the phrase ironically: “mooi weertje, vandaag”. If you want to sound more serious: “bah, slecht weer, vandaag”.
Notice that the diminutive disappears the moment you start using negative words like slecht (bad), vreselijk, afschuwelijk (terrible). A curt, “rotweer hè?” is quite to the point.
The weather is treated as some kind of religion.
2. Na regen komt zonneschijn(after rain, the sun will shine)
When the rain is coming down in buckets (het regent pijpenstelen = it’s raining pipe stems), you could continue the conversation with an optimistic remark by saying, “achter de wolken schijnt de zon” (behind the clouds the sun will shine) or the above expression.
Note that this expression can also be used when a colleague has just confessed to you that their relationship ended the night before. Or when they fell down the stairs and broke their leg, arm or worse.
3. Het is fris voor de tijd van het jaar (nippy for the time of the year)
In Holland, there is no one holier than the weatherman. And yet, most people treat him or her with due suspicion. So are they staunch believers or rather impious? The answer is a little bit of both.
The weather is treated as some kind of religion. Much attention is devoted to the many broadcasts on the internet, television, radio or reports in the papers, and they are treated as essential food for a weather conversation.
These reports could be seen as sermons. “Het weerbericht zat er weer goed naast” (the forecast was completely off the mark again). The opposite is usually passed over in silence.
4. De zon breekt door (the sun breaks through)
Unbelievably, the clouds separate and a weak sun shows itself in a blue sky. “Het zonnetje laat zich zien, hoera, tijd voor een terrasje!” Yes, thousands of Dutchies can be seen swarming to the many outdoor cafés where they try to catch a sun beam while sipping on a beer or glass of wine.
5. Er staat een stevige bries vandaag (a firm breeze)
The wind is an almost continuous presence in the Low Countries and because so many people ride a bike to and from work, the wind can be your friend or your enemy. “Hè hè, tjonge jonge, ik fietste met de wind tegen” (cycled against the wind) is a frequent remark.
Very rarely do you hear the opposite: “ik had de wind mee” (with the wind behind me). However, if this happens and there is a little bit of sunshine as well, one could not be happier.
Number one in the top five of Dutch conversation topics is the fickle weather.
6. Tjongejonge wat is het heet (my my, how hot it is!)
When the mercury in the thermometer rises, the days of rain and wind are immediately forgotten and a new complaint can be heard. “Zucht, zucht…”(sigh, sigh) “was het maar wat koeler” (wish it was a little cooler).
Millions of Dutchmen migrate to the beaches and flock together in the many seaside resorts like Scheveningen or Zandvoort. The Dutch will say: “het ziet er zwart van de mensen” (it’s swarming with people). And you can hear them say, “tjongejonge wat is het heet”, “Biertje? Ja, biertje!” “IJsje? Ja, ijsje!” Note that conversations must be shortened to a minimum in order to save energy.
7. Parapluutje, parasolletje…(little umbrella, little parasol)
My grandmother used to say this a lot. Unfortunately, I’m afraid, this expression has gone out of use. Instead, many Dutchies will say, “het kan vriezen of dooien” (freeze or thaw, the weather will be fickle). You can use this as a reference to the weather, but it also says a lot about human existence.
Life can be heaven for a while, but like the Dutch climate, it can quickly turn to hell. No weatherman can foretell what‘s in store. So, if you’re wondering if my grandmother’s expression – which took its metaphor from a cute weather house with a sombre man and his umbrella and a pretty woman with her parasol – had a follow up? The answer is yes, it went like so: “het leven is geen lolletje” (life is not a joke). So it goes.
This article was written by Ruud Hisgen (Direct Dutch) for I am Expat