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Dutch Culture 101

By Yann, published on 03/11/2018 We Love Prof - IN > Languages > Dutch > Discovering the Elements of Dutch Culture

“Culture makes people understand each other better. And if they understand each other better in their soul, it is easier to overcome the economic and political barriers. But first they have to understand that their neighbour is, in the end, just like them, with the same problems, the same questions.” -Paulo Coehlo

The people, food, language, architecture, education, art and distinct elements of a place all contribute to the culture of a certain country. Without culture, the world would be a bleak place without variety.

We can liken it to a meal without flavour and let’s be honest no one wants to eat bland food! 

The world is blessed with six habitable continents that have all contributed to the mosaic of international culture. Europe is especially rich in culture and history from so many different lands. The European country of the Netherlands is no exception.

Holland has much to offer its residents and tourists. From some of the most educated minds of all time to interesting facts and figures, the Netherlands is a country worthy of discovery. Superprof is here to enlighten readers about the elements of Dutch culture that make it special, intellectual and downright lovable.

Fasten your seatbelts for a quick tour around the Netherlands to further understand its unique culture!

How to Acquire Dutch Citizenship

The Netherlands has been a tolerant country for immigrants since the end of the Second World War. There have been many who have arrived from various different countries looking for employment in order to create a better life than what they had before.

After living in the Netherlands for a few years with a work permit it is possible for foreigners to apply for Dutch citizenship in two distinct ways.

Option Procedure

The easiest, cheapest and least time-consuming option of the two available. It costs 179 euros per person and can be finished in 3 months.

The requirements for the option procedure are the following:

  • A person has lived in Holland or another Dutch territory for the majority of their life,
  • Has been married to a Dutch native for at least three years and has lived in the Netherlands without interruption for 15 years or more,
  • Older than 65 years of age and has been a resident of the Netherlands for at least 15 years,
  • One of your parents or legal guardians is Dutch and you have lived with them for at least 3 years in Dutch territory.

Naturalization Procedure

The naturalization procedure takes at least a year to finish and is dramatically more expensive than the previous option. Here are the requirements demanded by immigration policies in the Netherlands for this citizenship procedure:

  • Minimum age of the applicant must be 18 years old,
  • The applicant is required to show proof of having lived five uninterrupted years with a valid residence permit, have been married to their native Dutch spouse or partner for at least three years or they have resided in the Netherlands for 10 years with a residency visa or work permit,
  • An additional requirement is that the applicant must be able to read, write, speak and understand the Dutch language. This is proven by a civic integration examination,
  • In the last four years of residency in the Netherlands, the applicant must not have been sentenced to community service or the payment of a fine with a value of more than 810 euros,
  • In some cases, it is required for applicants to be prepared to renounce their nationality,
  • Have a valid permanent residency or visa that shows years of being a permanent resident in the Netherlands.

The main documents needed to apply are a valid passport, Dutch residence permit, birth certificate, civil integration certificate and marriage certificate if applicable.

10 Famous Dutch Writers You Ought to Know

drawings and writings Dick Bruna’s character, Miffy, has been enjoyed by children all over the world. (Source: Visual Hunt)

The Dutch are very educated and literate people. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that authors, poets and writers from the Netherlands have made their mark on the world scene and published books that are loved by people everywhere.

Without further ado, here are to top 10 most famous Dutch writers in literary history:

  • Gerard Reve: one of the most famous novelists in Dutch history, Reve is a member of the “Great Three” of post-war Dutch literature. His literary works were highly controversial in the time of their release for explicitly depicting acts of sexuality. His novel The Fourth Man was published in 1981 and adapted to the screen in 1983 by director Paul Verhoeven.
  • Willem Frederik Hermans: born in Amsterdam and also known as a member of the “Great Three.” His existentialist writing style was generally very bleak but praised by critics. His novels and stories show that he was quite affected by the Second World War. Hermans most famous works include his novella The House of Refuge and his full-length novel known as The Darkroom of Damocles. 
  • Harry Mulisch: third and final member of the “Great Three” of post-war Dutch literature. He is probably the most acclaimed of the three for his tireless work in literature. During his career, he wrote more than 80 novels, plays, poems and essays. Lauded by many as “Holland’s Greatest Author” especially for his popular literary works known as The Assault and The Discovery of Heaven. 
  • Jan Wolkers: known as the fourth member of the “Great Four”, the other members being the previously mentioned men, his works were acclaimed by many. His 1969 novel Turks Fruit was praised and adapted into a movie directed by Paul Verhoeven. The film was later voted the greatest Dutch film of the 20th century.
  • Anne Frank: although not born in the Netherlands, she spent the majority of her life in and around Amsterdam. Her posthumously published book known as The Diary of a Young Girl has been widely translated into many languages and cherished all over the world. She was one of the most discussed personages of the Holocaust.
  • Dick Bruna: his creation of the illustrated character Miffy became a worldwide sensation. During his lifetime, he published 120 children’s books which sold over 85 million copies.
  • Annie M.G Schmidt: widely regarded as being one of the Netherland’s best authors she was awarded the Hans Christian Andersen Medal in 1988 for her contribution to children’s literature.
  • Hella Haase: known as the “Grand Old Lady” of Dutch literature, Haase’s book Oeroeg was a common staple for schoolchildren from its first publishing in 1948 to the present day.
  • A.C Baantjer: well-known for his detective novels that have been translated into many other languages featuring the detective DeKok and his side-kick Sargeant Vledder.
  • Michel Faber: born in the Netherlands but underwent postsecondary schooling in Australia, Faber writes primarily in the English language. His magnum opus The Crimson Petal and the White is an epic novel that has been acclaimed all over the world.

10 Dutch Philosophers, You Ought to Know About

philosophers Spinoza’s philosophical writings brought him acclaim and made him world famous. (Source: Visual Hunt)

Philosophy is an academic discipline that analyzes the nature of knowledge, reality and existence. There are quite a few Dutch philosophers who have contributed to the world’s collective thinking:

  • Baruch Spinoza: a Jewish-Dutch philosopher of Portuguese descent who was heavily criticized in his lifetime for his controversial thoughts on religion. His magnum opus, “Ethics”, was is quoted as being the “last indisputable Latin masterpiece.”
  • Desiderius Erasmus: viewed as being one of the first humanists. He constantly helped individuals and viewed it as a Christian’s duty. He translated Biblical texts into Latin and Greek that were fresh and easier to understand.
  • Hugo Grotius: a philosopher and a teenage prodigy in his youth, today Grotius is mostly recognized for his ideas about international society and his theories about natural law.
  • Cornelius de Pauw: known for being an expert on North and South American natives and culture. During his lifetime, he was Europe’s most trusted specialist about these subjects.
  • Geert Groote: a religious individual who constantly helped those in need. Along with his friend, Floren Radewyns, he established the Brethren of the Common Life and developed a movement known as the Devotio Moderna. 
  • Christiaan Huygens: widely regarded as being one of the best scientists of all time, he tirelessly worked on different topics of natural philosophy such as the laws of motion, impact and gravitation, optics and horology.
  • Dirck Coornhert: instead of creating new works written in Latin, which was the common custom in his day, Coornhert wrote his ideas in Dutch which contributed to the enrichment of the Dutch language.
  • Bernard Mandeville: born in the Netherlands but spent most of his life in England, he published the writings known as The Fable of the Bees which was criticized by others as being cynical and degrading to others.
  • Gerardus Heymans: known for his efforts in the fields of psychology and philosophy, Heymans created a system of personality classification known as a cube with three axes and 8 temperaments that was used for many years after its invention.
  • Jacob Moleschott: remembered for his belief in the material basis of emotion and thought. He wanted to find “scientific answers to scientific questions” and is notably remembered for his specific development in the field of physiological chemistry.

10 Facts About Holland

yummy cheese Eating Dutch cheeses such as Gouda, Edam and Maasdam is a must when travelling through the Netherlands. (Source: pixabay)

Like most countries in Europe, Holland has a very long history and is famous for many interesting things that cause people to go back year after year.

Without delaying the matter any further here are 10 facts about Holland that make it unique:

  • Below Sea Level: a recent estimate has shown that 26% of Holland’s geographic territory is below sea level. This also means that 21% of the total population live below sea level. The Dutch people have found solutions for the potential problems that could occur.
  • Tallest in the World: the Dutch are the tallest people in the world, with men measuring an average height of 1.825m and women 1.69m.
  • Most Densely Populated Country in Europe: there are approximately 508 people per square kilometre in the Netherlands. When excluded the immensely tiny countries of Monaco, Gibralter and Vatican City it becomes the most densely populated country in Europe.
  • Tulips are not Native of the Netherlands: when people think of Dutch culture they think of tulips, nevertheless, they are originally from Turkey and were imported at the beginning of the 17th century.
  • The Dutch are Experts in English: on the English Proficiency Index (EPI) the Dutch rank the highest. It is estimated that 9 out of 10 Dutch people speak fluent English.
  • More Bikes than People: a recent estimate has found that there are 22.5 million bikes in the Netherlands. With a population of 17 million, there are many more bikes than inhabitants.
  • Second Biggest Beer Exporter in the World: the Netherlands is responsible for 13.6% of all the beer exports in the world. They are the second biggest exporter after Mexico.
  • First Multinational Company: the Dutch East India Company was established in 1602 and became the first multinational company setting up trading posts and colonizing territories.
  • Agriculture Means Big Money: despite being very small in size, the Netherlands was the second biggest agriculture exporter in the world after the United States exporting 94 billion euros worth of goods to other countries.
  • Holland has delicious cheese: Gouda, Edam, Maasdam and Leyden are world renowned cheeses from the Netherlands that can be bought in markets all over the world.

What is Holland Famous for?

cultural symbols Dutch windmills can be seen all over the Netherlands. (Source: pixabay)

Holland is a beautiful part of the world that has a very distinctive culture. There are many things that can be recognized worldwide as being Dutch.

Windmills

There are over 1000 windmills in the Netherlands. Windmills were constructed in the 17th century to drain and move water, crush grain and saw wood that would be needed to build large ships.

Every second Saturday in May is known as “National Mill Day” and 600 of the windmills are open to the public and can be visited by all desire to see how things were done in the past. 

The most famous windmills are Molen de Adriaan, the system of windmills at Kinderdijk-Elshout and De Gooyer. 

Dutch Art

Some of the most acclaimed painters of all time come from the Netherlands. The Dutch Golden Age was a very creative period in Dutch history where artists such as Rembrandt van Rijn and Johannes Vermeer painted their masterpieces.

Nevertheless, when we talk about Dutch art we cannot omit the mention of Vincent Van Gogh. Although he never experienced any commercial success in his lifetime, his paintings are now the favourites of many art lovers and can be seen in museums all over the world.

Canals

Canals are often what people notice first when travelling to a Dutch city. They can be observed in the cities of Amsterdam, Leiden, Delft and Utrecht.

The canals were built for many reasons such as transport, water removal and irrigation. It was a very smart idea to include canals in city planning due to the fact that 26% of the Netherlands is below sea level.

The canals provide great transport as well and a visit to Amsterdam is not complete without a city tour through the canals.

Dutch culture is varied and extremely interesting. The eccentricities of the Dutch culture, its inhabitants and its cities keep residents and recurring tourists happy.

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