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Celebrate your holiday the Dutch way!

‘We’re all goin’ on a summer holiday / No more workin’ for a week or two / Fun and
laughter on a summer holiday / No more worries for me or you / For a week or two’,
that’s what Cliff Richard sang in 1963 when he was an actor in the popular film
Summer Holiday.

Are you wondering how the Dutch celebrate their holidays? Ruud Hisgen (Direct
Dutch Institute) has collected a few Dutch phrases which will surely get you in a more
leisurely mood.

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Vakantie vieren (Vacationing)

Yes, the Dutch “vieren” their “vakantie”. They celebrate their holidays! While the French “take” (prendre les vacances), the Germans “make” (Urlaub machen) and the people in the English-speaking world say they “are” on holiday, the Dutch and the Flemish “celebrate” their holidays. A Dutch holiday is celebrated like a party or a festivity. Note the prepositions! The Dutch “gaan met vakantie” (go with vacation) when they take time out. The Dutch “gaan op vakantie” (go on holiday) when they travel to a place that is not home. But don’t worry, if you’re allergic to these prepositions, the Dutch of today will use either “op” or “met” at random.

Thuisvakantie (Staycation)

Due to the COVID-pandemic many Dutch people decided to miss out on their yearly trips to Mediterranean countries like Turkey, Greece, France, Spain or Portugal and “celebrate” their holidays in the Netherlands in 2021. From the year 2009 onwards, the English word “staycation” has become part and parcel of the Dutch vocabulary and can be consulted in the official Dikke Van Dale (the fat Dutch dictionary Van Dale).

Instead of staycation, the Dutch also use “thuisvakantie” (home holiday) or “vakantie in eigen land” (vacation in your own country). Recently, Marlou Jacobs and Godfried van Loo travelled over 5.000 kilometres across the petite lowlands in search of unique spots radiating rest and space and wrote a book called Nederland – Vakantie in eigen land (Reisreport).

Kamperen (Camping)

Sometimes the younger Dutch generations endearingly call their parents or great parents, the babyboomers, the “caravangeneratie” (caravan generation). In the 50s and 60s, most Dutch people did not have enough money to travel abroad and so they became passionate “kampeerders” (campers). With their caravans or tents they created small, very “gezellig” (cosy) villages. Entire families used to go to the same spot near a farm in The Veluwe in Gelderland, where they hung out and drank their coffees and beers and jenevers when it was “borreltijd” (cocktail hour).

Wandelen en fietsen (Walking and cycling)

Why go to faraway countries? Why go through the stress? Why spend so much money? Stay in the Netherlands and explore the lush, green flatness of the watery lands. Or climb the lovely flowery hills of Limburg near beautiful Maastricht. Enjoy the regional food and drink with hospitable Dutchmen who speak in dialects that even Hollanders cannot understand. Forget the car. The ideal means of transportation is the bicycle, or you can travel by train and bus and take lovely walks.

Eropuit gaan (go on a trip, journey)

If you would like to get some tips about trips, journeys, or holidays in the Netherlands, google the words “eropuit” and you’ll be rewarded royally. “Eropuit” usually refers to shorter trips not too far away. On their websites, the ANWB (Algemene Nederlandse Wielrijdersbond), the Dutch AA, and the NS (Nederlandse Spoorwegen), the Dutch Railways, present some lovely tips for “een dagje uit” (a day out) or “een weekendje weg” (a weekend away) at very reasonable prices.

De bloemetjes buiten zetten (live it up)

As I said in the beginning, the Dutch love to celebrate their holidays. It’s the time that they “de bloemetjes buiten zetten” (put the flowers outside). Weird expression, isn’t it? Weird or not, be a daredevil, put on your walking boots or mount your bike, explore the richness of the Netherlands and “zet de bloemetjes buiten”. And speak Dutch with the natives. You won’t regret it.

Did this article inspire you to ‘celebrate’ your vacation in the Netherlands? Don’t take it from us! Here are the top 3 Dutch holiday destinations according to internationals living in the Netherlands!

The article ‘Celebrate your holiday the Dutch way!’ is written by Ruud Hisgen (Direct Dutch Institute) for I am Expat in July 2021