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Culture & Identity of the Netherlands

Introduction

Dutch Culture - Wooden shoes
Wooden shoes

The Dutch are known throughout the world as being very liberal in nearly every sense of the word, but what few people know is that with this acceptance of nearly anything, the people rarely interfere in the personal lives of others and hence the people are very individual and independent. In a way this alters the culture, the daily way of life, the social dynamic, and much more.

Due to this acceptance and individualism, the way of life of each and every individual is quite distinct and personalized. However, for most people there are also a huge number of similarities. In fact, from day to day most people have very set routines that revolve around work.

For most of the working population, jobs are found in the services sector, and for most people these jobs, and their lives, are heavily reliant on the city as nearly 85% of the people are urbanized. Due to this, bikes and public transportation seem to rule the country as few people can justify getting, or understand the need for a car.

Most work days begin with a bike ride or a trip on public transportation to work, which for many people begins at about 8:30 am and ends at about 5:00 pm. Like work, most schools also have standard hours, but each school sets their own hours, which often times run from about late August to mid-June as days generally begin at about 8:30 am and end at about 3:30 pm, often times with an hour or two in the middle for lunch. Oddly, there are a huge number of schools that are affiliated with a religion, despite the fact that few of the Dutch of overtly religious.

How the Dutch tend to spend their evenings and weekends (Saturday-Sunday) is highly individualized as some people prefer staying in, others want to go for a bike ride, and others may head into town for some night life, or out of town for an escape from the city.

Identity

The way the people of the Netherlands identify is being put to the test today. The people have always been open to change and have taken particular pride in their acceptance of others, but in recent years this has led to large immigration and today about 20% of the population is not ethnically Dutch. The arrival of these new immigrants, along with urbanization, have altered the lifestyle and many historic traditions of the people, making some shift their identity of being a citizen of the Netherlands to being "Dutch," which is ethnically, not politically, defined.

However, even before this immigration rose and urbanization began, the people have never truly known how to identify as the country is divided ethnically and culturally in so many ways; perhaps this is why they first began identifying with their nation over their ethnicity hundreds of years ago. But even in the past, the people have never accepted, nor have they ever promoted a strong government, rather they only saw their nation as being a symbol of each individual's personal beliefs and thoughts. In many ways, both past and present, the people have first identified as being citizens of their country, but what their country is and what it stands for tends to be different for every individual so this general identity is also defined differently for each individual.

This page was last updated: November, 2013