The Netherlands is one of the smallest countries in Europe, but with a population of 18 million and a gross domestic product of a trillion dollars, it makes it a formidable entity on the world stage. The Dutch have been at the forefront of exploration and expansion throughout history, and their knowledge of working with water is second to none.
I wanted to note, the name of the country is the Netherlands, not Holland. One of the twelve provinces is North Holland, where Amsterdam is located. This is the reason many people refer to the entire country as Holland.
Another interesting fact is Dutch names, many of which have ‘van’, or ‘vander’, or ‘de’, in them, all mean something. Van, for example, means ‘from’ and ‘de’ means ‘of’. Names like ‘de Boer’ or ‘de Jong’, means ‘of the Farmer, and ‘of the Young’. In my case, my great grandfather would haul coal from Bilsen. a little village in Belgium to Rotterdam, using a horse and cart. He was known as Peter van (from) Bilsen.
Another well-known fact (only to Dutch people) is the Dutch’s sense of humour. Coupled with the ability to laugh at themselves and consequently make fun of others, they have a keen sense of perception when it comes to other nationalities.
The Dutch are a cross-section of many nationalities. They are efficient as the Germans but want to live like the French. They try to imitate the Brits when it comes to humour, and most Dutch watch the BBC to hear the jokes.
Most Netherlanders appreciate the directness of other Europeans and the enthusiasm of Americans. The Dutch are more reserved and when asked ‘how are you?’, usually reply with ‘OK’. But saying ‘OK’ to Americans implies we are so-so. Many Dutch have learned phrases like ‘We’re Grrrreat’, not realizing they sound like Tony the Tiger.
Did you know the Dutch are the most wanted workers at Disneyland Paris? This is because most Dutch are open-minded. They can smile all day and speak three or four languages.
Of course, the Dutch love Canadians, but they really feel Canada missed the boat. We had an opportunity to have it all: British culture, French cuisine, and American know-how. Instead, we have British food, French know-how and American culture.
You can always tell a Dutchman. You just can’t tell him very much. Always remember, if you’re not Dutch, you’re not much.
Jonathan van Bilsen is a television host, award-winning photographer, published author, columnist and keynote speaker. Watch his show, ‘Jonathan van Bilsen’s photosNtravel’, on Rogers the Standard Website or YouTube.