The weather: The one topic the Dutch never stop talking about
The Netherlands is a beautiful country located in Western Europe. However, the weather here can be really unpredictable all throughout the year. Taalthuis explains the Dutch weather and why the locals are constantly going on about it.
If you have been in the Netherlands for some time, you must have noticed how much the Dutch like to talk about the weather. So, why do the Dutch love talking about it so much? Well, it’s probably because of the numerous weather types this small country can face in a short period of time!
The many different words for rain
It can often rain for days here, so there are lots of ways to talk about the rain in Dutch. Because it can rain pijpestelen (like pipes) or it can miezeren (drizzle). So any ray of sunshine is an excuse for a Dutchie to go outside to sit on a terrace or lie in a park - preferably wearing only a t-shirt, even if the temperature calls for a jas (jacket) or a trui (sweater).
Pros at handling the rain
On the other hand, the Dutch handle rainy conditions better than anyone else. Rain suits, rain pants, umbrellas and rain ponchos are essentials for every Dutchie's wardrobe. And it really is an excellent idea to have these fundamental - although perhaps unflattering - items in your closet if you are staying in the Netherlands for any length of time. Pak in, dat regenpak! (Pack that rain suit!)
With its long North Sea coast, the Netherlands has a so-called temperate maritime climate, which means it has four well defined seasons. But what characterises these seasons? Let's find out!
One thing is certain about the Dutch summer: the weather is very unpredictable! Some years it can be oppressively hot, causing the beaches to get really crowded and all the nice terraces to be occupied! The North Sea waters can heat up to about 19 degrees Celsius and the temperatures can match those of the Mediterranean with a light sea breeze … Sounds perfect right?
Other times, like this year really, the weather can be very disappointing. Rain showers can ruin your beach plans, a walk on the canals needs to be endured with a rain poncho and wellies (AKA rain boots). Come prepared if you choose the Netherlands as a summer destination, as it is always a surprise what your holiday will look like.
If you've been keeping track of Formula 1 this season, then you have seen how Max Verstappen handled the rainy conditions on the race track in Zandvoort. It surely made for spectacular images and a very exciting race this year, after the last two sun-drenched Dutch Grand Prix editions organised in the same season!
Autumn, or herfst, is generally cold and cloudy with a lot of wind. Also, be prepared for more regen (rain)! Autumn means shorter days and longer nights. But for some, autumn is their favourite season. Prepare for wonderful walks surrounded by falling leaves in the most beautiful colours, damp-scented earth, and a low-hanging fog over the flat, vast landscape.
If you’re lucky, the sun will shine its rays on the autumn leaves and it all comes together in perfect harmony. This season is all about combining two great activities: those nice strolls in beautiful Dutch nature followed by eating delicacies such as apple pie and gingerbread with a nice cup of tea or hot chocolate, inside your cosy home.
The winters (de winters in Dutch) in the Netherlands are cold, with an average temperature of around three degrees Celsius. Temperatures usually stay above zero and the weather alternates between windy, rainy, foggy and a bit dull.
Sometimes, though, the Dutch are lucky with temperatures that stay below zero for a few days. While the country is covered with a layer of snow and the lakes, rivers and all canals freeze over, the Dutch grab their skates for some ice skating, a national sport.
The Dutch are very proud of their Elfstedentocht, a long-distance skating tour on natural ice that takes you past eleven historic cities in the northern province of Friesland. The tour can only be held if the natural ice is at least 15 centimetres thick over the entire course. The last Elfstedentocht ever was in 1997 and some people fear that it may never happen again - but let's hope it does!
Even if you can't skate, it is a great experience to go to the frozen water and enjoy the atmosphere and taste Dutch delicacies such as hot chocolate, snert (pea soup) and maybe drink a Berenburger or Oude Jenever. End the day with a delicious stew and you can call yourself a true Dutchie.
The Dutch spring, which starts on March 21, offers cool temperatures of around 10 degrees Celsius. After a few dark months though, every ray of sun is welcomed with lots of enthusiasm. The country warms up very slowly, and in the last weeks of spring, in May and June, temperatures can rise to around 20 degrees Celsius. This season, called de lente, is known for its flowering bulbs and blossoming trees.
This makes spring the best season to visit the famous tulip fields or the Keukenhof, a beautiful spring garden with millions of flowers. As soon as the sun really breaks through, the Dutch rush out to sit on a terrace to have a borrel with cool drinks and snacks such as bitterballen or some oude kaasblokjes, where they talk about … the weather, of course!
Weather is always a safe topic in the Netherlands
We all know that talking about the weather is typical small talk for many countries, however, no one does it quite like the Dutch. And who can blame them? You never know what type of weather you're going to be stepping into in the Netherlands! Whether it's blue skies or day-long showers, only one thing's for sure: you can always count on the Dutch to talk about it.
Would you like to become an expert in talking about the weather, learning the difference between pijpestelen, miezer en motregen, plensbuien, slagregen, and hondeweer? Sign up for a Taalthuis course so you can quickly feel at home, despite the regen!