Go Dutch this Christmas

Add a bit of Dutchness to your Christmas celebrations December is in full swing and that means it is time to begin preparing, enjoying, and celebrating Christmas. A sparkling tree in the living room, the smell of baking biscuits floating out of the oven and Christmas songs on the radio—Christmas celebrations really do start at home. But just how do you give your Christmas that extra touch of 'Dutchness' while living in the Netherlands? Here is a list to inspire you, based on some of the ways the Dutch celebrate Christmas at home. Put up the decorations Whether you are going for all one colour or prefer a multi-coloured effect, putting up the Christmas decorations is a must in the Netherlands. Each year the number of sparkling lights and Christmas baubles increases. However, if you find yourself lacking in inspiration, head over to your nearest Intratuin or other garden centre where they have the most overwhelming choice. Prepare for two Christmas Days The Netherlands celebrates Christmas on both December 25th and December 26th,...  More >

Family fun for the Christmas holidays

From Gouda by candlelight to a Christmas Carol – a round-up of holiday family fun The school holidays are finally coming up! Esther O'Toole has a run down of special Christmas events and activities, for young and old, up and down the country, traditional and alternative; starting on December 15. Countrywide: winter circuses A trip to the circus is a popular Dutch tradition at Christmas. You will find Christmas Circuses all over: Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam, Haarlem, Nijmegen, Sittard…Eindhoven's will be in the Park Theater and offers lots of extra activities for kids throughout the building, so you can really make a day of it. Website Amsterdam: Kerstspel, Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ There are more than 10 special events going on at the Muziekgebouw this holiday season. Including a new tradition of their own making - Kerstspel. A modern Christmas concert to inspire your littlens as they watch performers as young as 4 years old perform alongside the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra. Website Amsterdam: The Christmas Show, Ziggo Dome It wouldn't be the season...  More >

Dutch cats - here's nine things to know

The Dutch love their cats – and here’s the proof They peer down at you from the windows of canal houses and slink past your legs while you’re hanging out in cafes. Indeed, cats definitely seem to be everywhere in the Netherlands. According to one estimate, there’s over 2.8 million of them currently living in the country. Brandon Hartley has nine key facts about Dutch cats Cats in the Kunsthal You can sink your claws into an exposition devoted entirely to cats at Rotterdam’s Kunsthal museum, until January 14, 2018. ‘Cat Love: Nine Lives in the Arts’ takes a look at how felines have been depicted in art from the mid-19th century to modern times. Along with paintings by Henriëtte Ronner-Knip and Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen and work by contemporary artists including David Shrigley and Wallasse Ting, the show includes tributes to international ‘cat sensations’ like Grumpy Cat and Lil Bub. There’s also an interactive exhibit that allows visitors to experience what it’s like to be a feline in the Netherlands. What...  More >

FvD has 'damaging' focus on race

Forum voor Democratie’s focus on race is damaging, says D66 MP D66 MP Jan Paternotte calls the Forum voor Democratie's focus on race 'damaging' and challenges its MPs to face opposition where it can be heard: in a public debate in parliament. ‘Hiddema didn’t say anything wrong, silly Jan Paternotte’. That is how columnist Theodor Holman ended a passionate defence of Forum voor Democratie MP Theo Hiddema in his column in the Parool. This was the same Hiddema who, during a parliamentary debate spoke of a ‘proud, noble negro’ who, he said, would not benefit from a law on incitement of hatred against groups. Holman's comment came only weeks after a radio broadcast in which Hiddema said ‘race mixing’ would be the best way to go for Dutch Moroccans, seeing how reluctant they are to integrate. On Twitter I called Hiddema’s comments an example of his party’s increasingly sickening focus on race. Holman explained that his generation – and Hiddema’s – use the term ‘negroes’ and that to him the word was much less denigrating...  More >

Key facts about top-up health insurance

Supplementary health insurance: what is it and do you need it? Supplementary health insurance policies have been in the news a lot this month, with the central Dutch bank suggesting they could disappear in the future. So what's all the fuss about? Here's a handy guide to what supplementary health insurance policies cover, how they work and whether or not you need one in 2018. What should you look out for when assessing supplementary health policies? Cover The basic health insurance (basisverzekering) is the compulsory part of Dutch health insurance. It covers essential medical healthcare, such as visits to your GP, hospital treatments, emergency medical care and (some) medication. There may be treatment you might want but that is not covered by the basic health policy. Here is a list: Physiotherapy (for non-chronic conditions) Dental care (above 18 years of age) Alternative medicine Orthodontics for children and adults Glasses (or lenses) Podotherapy This is where a supplemental insurance comes in. These optional...  More >

Podcast: The Grinch Stole My Oliebollen

DutchNews podcast – The Grinch Stole My Oliebollen Edition – Week 49 There's not much Christmas cheer in our last podcast of the year, as the Dutch government joins the chorus of disapproval against Donald Trump's latest diplomatic intervention, texting while cycling is officially frowned on, a radio station is pilloried for a sexist prank and Spain comes under fire for its treatment of Morgan the orca. Andre Rieu makes a surprise guest appearance in our sports news, while our end-of-year discussion looks at some of the top 2000 reasons to celebrate Christmas in the Netherlands. Click here to see what you can win in our great Christmas giveaway Top story Dutch government criticises 'counterproductive' Trump statement on Jerusalem News Radio presenter apologises to singer after nude prank sparks backlash Primary school teachers to strike again on December 12 Dutch government pledges to outlaw texting while cycling Spanish aquarium accused of using Morgan the rescued orca for breeding Sport Feyenoord and Vitesse avoid...  More >

'The red light district is beautiful'

Travel blogger, museum guide and Dutch cheese addict Tea Gudek Šnajdar from Haarlem emigrated from Croatia in 2013 in search of adventure. At work or at play, there is nowhere she’s rather be than at Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum, marvelling at the Golden Age masterpieces. How did you end up in the Netherlands? My husband and I wanted to go somewhere abroad, and we had this idea while we were both still studying to go somewhere outside Croatia and get an international experience. When we graduated, we said let’s both look for jobs somewhere in Europe. We actually knew very little about the Netherlands before we came, but then my husband got an interview, and then a job offer, and within a month, we were in Amsterdam! It was really fast. How do you describe yourself - an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international etc I would say a little bit of all of them. When I came here I saw myself more as a combination of lovepat and immigrant, but then, today, I think this image of myself...  More >

Great new books to give away

Books, clocks and tulips: we’ve got some great gifts to give away December is a time of giving and that's just what we are doing this month at DutchNews.nl. We've got some great gifts to give away to several lucky readers. NLXL by Karel Tomei The Netherlands might like to consider itself a small country - a kleine kikkerlandje, as the Dutch are so fond of saying - but this is one mighty big book. Karel Tomei's NLXL weighs in at a whopping 3.5 kilos but is such a joy to look at that you will forget the weight on your knees. The book draws on the tradition of birds eye view paintings in which the world is captured from the skies: the intricate patterns of reclaimed land crisscrossed by ditches, the contrast between bulb fields and a golf course, great swathes of sand with a city in the distance, a drone's view of a busy cafe terrace, the intricate carvings on the roof of a cathedral. But it's the landscape that really rules NLXL - the Netherlands might be oh so very flat, but it still has amazing variation in its countryside - from the seaside...  More >

Podcast: The Vial of Fake News Edition

DutchNews podcast – The Poison Chalice of Fake News Edition – Week 48 In this week's podcast we tackle the biggest, blackest hot potato of our times - when and how will the Zwarte Piet debate end? It's been a week of bitterness and recriminations, with a chaotic end to the Yugoslavia tribunals in The Hague and the Dutch government facing accusations of fitting up an airline pilot who spent eight years in an Argentinian jail before being cleared this week of throwing dissidents out of planes in the 1970s. We also pick our favourites from the shortlist for Dutch Word of the Year and look at Ajax's attempts to export their renowned academy system to China – just as Dutch football clubs plunge in the European pecking order. Top story Genocide general smuggles poison vial into The Hague war crimes tribunal News Police trace woman who abandoned boy at Amsterdam Central Station Government urged to improve screening of gay and Christian asylum seekers Anti-Muslim video retweeted by Donald Trump is fake news Pilot Julio Poch plans to sue...  More >

12 great things to do in December

Cats, kings and the American dream: 12 great things to do in December Not everything on the calendar for December is about Sinterklaas and Santa Claus but inevitably lots of events at this time of year are Christmas-themed.  We've got top notch theatre, ice sculptures, cat karaoke and the American dream in our latest listing. Savour some savoir-faire If you haven't bought a single present yet and are not short of a euro or two why not visit the Westergasfabriek in Amsterdam for inspiration. Meesterlijk is a three day extravaganza of 'style, specialisms and savoir-faire'. This is an event all about designer goods and handcrafted stuff. It's also a 'recyclable total concept' which we think might be a good thing. December 1,2,3. Website Slide on the ice Scheveningen is not only the scene of the traditonal new year's plunge (see further down) it also has another icy surprise in store: the Ice EXPO, featuring a multitude of ice sculptures inspired by Scheveningen's glorious past as a watering hole for the Den Haag posh and the not so posh. Next door...  More >

Gender-neutral marketing hits Holland

No more Hema and Shema: Gender-neutral marketing hits the Netherlands This is your last weekend to pack in the pre-Sinterklaas shopping. So will it be pink for the girls and blue for the boys? Gender-neutral marketing has finally arrived in the Netherlands but, as Deborah Nicholls-Lee reports, not everyone is happy. In June 2015, following a particularly depressing visit to toy store Bart Smit - whose signage suggested that my five-year-old daughter had no business looking at toys that had to do with engineering, natural history or science – I poked my head above the Twitter parapet and tweeted my frustration. The backlash was unanticipated: I was a drama queen; a ghastly feminist; I was lying. I concluded that the Netherlands was simply not ready to engage in this particular conversation and left it well alone. Nevertheless, I was bemused. Toys R Us in Sweden went gender-neutral in 2013 and Australia launched the No Gender December campaign in 2014, urging people to ‘Buy gifts not stereotypes’. The UK-based campaign Let Toys Be Toys reported...  More >

British ambassador reassures Brits in NL

‘We want British citizens in NL to continue to live as they do now’ With European leaders due to meet in Brussels next month, the time is right to press on with negotiations on the UK's withdrawal from the European Union, says  ambassador Peter Wilson says in an open letter to British nationals in the Netherlands. On 14 and 15 December the leaders of the European Union member states will meet in Brussels for the December gathering of the European Council.  The council comes together after months of talks which have generated a huge amount of media reporting and comment.  It is our firm belief that the time to move on to the next phase of negotiations is now. I have met many British nationals across the Netherlands during our open forums, and I know that they are uncertain and worried about the consequences of the UK’s departure from the European Union. I want to be able to offer as much certainty as possible both to British nationals and to businesses here in the Netherlands. For that reason it is essential that we get on with discussing...  More >

Amsterdammers and the EMA

Amsterdammers moan about the arrival of the EMA (but then they would) Macro-economist Mathijs Bouman looks at the reactions of the inhabitants of the Dutch capital to the news that the European Medicines Agency will move to Amsterdam.  And of course, he says, they are moaning about it. It’s party time in Amsterdam. Wouter Bos has pulled it off. Not until the last round, mind you, and thanks to the luck of the Amsterdammers but mostly because of a clever and intensive lobby which made sure the capital was a contender at all. As soon as Brexit happens the European Medicines Agency (EMA) is leaving London for Amsterdam. Some 900 medicine experts will be making the move as well, taking their families - and their highly-valued purchasing power- with them. Grumblings Great news, you might think, but not a day had passed before the first grumblings were heard. According to Amsterdam-based urban sociologist Jan Rath, the agency will only bring more trouble to a city already struggling with housing problems. Houses in Amsterdam are expensive...  More >

Podcast: The Random Boners Edition

DutchNews podcast – The Random Descriptions of Boners Edition – Week 47 We look back on a week of thwarted protests as MPs fail to talk out a bill to scrap a tax break for homeowners and the A7 motorway is gridlocked by the Zwarte Piet debate. Amsterdam emerges as the first big winner in the Great Brexit Clearance Sale (and immediately frets about the effect on house prices), the Yugoslavia tribunal in The Hague delivers its verdict on the Butcher of Bosnia and a Dutch men's sports team shocks Europe by winning a match. In our discussion we ask which Dutch books you can safely buy your relatives for Christmas. Top story Filibuster attempt fails to scupper bill to abolish homeowners' tax break News Amsterdam to be new home of European Medicines Agency after Brexit Zwarte Piet supporters block motorway to stop protesters heading for Sinterklaas parade The Hague tribunal finds Ratko Mladic guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity Breda and Almere named best city centres in Netherlands (NOS, Dutch) Sport Feyenoord's dismal...  More >

How to get on as a woman in tech

How to get on as a woman in tech? Trust in your individuality Earlier this month, over 1,000 women (and a few men) piled into the RAI exhibition centre in Amsterdam to take part in the specialist European Women In Tech conference. Esther O'Toole was among the delegates. It was just last week that ING economists forecast the Dutch technology sector will need to recruit a massive120,000 workers over the next 12 years if it is to maintain current growth trends. Between 20% and 25% of companies in the sector say staff shortages are now becoming a problem - a statistic making it even more crucial that ambitious women wake up to the opportunities that the technology sector presents. In Europe as a whole, around a third of science, technology, engineering and maths university graduates are female, although in the Netherlands the figure is nearer 25%.   Nevertheless, the number of women holding high level jobs in the technology world remains noticeably low. Interest The two-day European Women in Tech conference is a young event - this...  More >

‘I’m one of those people who loves rain'

‘I’m one of those people who loves the rain, so I’m in the right place’ In search of an affordable university course in English, Somaye Dehban left her hometown of Tehran to build a new life in Utrecht. Some 13 years later, she is a Dutch-speaking, pancake-loving, echte Nederlander, with a shiny new Dutch passport. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I came here to study. I have a degree from Iran in Applied Mathematics and Computer Sciences, but I was more a Social Sciences and Humanities person and wanted to study in this field in English. The UK was very expensive and America was very difficult with Iranian nationality. I had a friend who did her PhD at Utrecht University … and I came across University College Utrecht [a Liberal Arts and Sciences college which is a faculty of Utrecht University] and I applied and I got in. I came in January, so one of my first impressions was the rain. I’m one of those people who actually loves the rain, so I’m in the right place. How do you describe yourself – an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international...  More >

The Netherlands' role in Thanksgiving

A Thanksgiving story: How the Netherlands played a part in the American holiday Before they set sail for the New World and inspired the holiday of Thanksgiving, the Pilgrims spent several years in Leiden. Brandon Hartley takes a look at a fascinating but often overlooked chapter in the histories of both the Netherlands and the United States and traces the footsteps of these pioneering Americans.    Anyone who spent time in a stateside grammar school is no doubt familiar with the simplified history of Thanksgiving; of the brave Pilgrims that sailed on a ship called the Mayflower to what is now the state of Massachusetts and participated in a feast after being aided by a friendly Native American tribe. But what they may not know is that, long before the Pilgrims hightailed it to the New World, they made a detour to Leiden - one that lasted over a decade. Trouble in England Like many holidays, Thanksgiving is the accumulation of various traditions and historical events that have had their rough-edges and complexities erased in order to make them more...  More >

Six classic Dutch winter warmers

Six classic Dutch winter warmers – all involving mashed potatoes and bacon Now winter has muscled in, it is time to eat real Dutch comfort food - and that means lots of mashed potato with either a bacon chop, a sausage or a meat ball. Robin Pascoe recommends six classic stamppot recipes. Despite all my years of living in the Netherlands, there is one classic Dutch dish that I still cannot bring myself to eat - the dreaded spinazie a la creme. Deep-frozen spinach with some sort of cream added in, served with fish fingers and mashed potato was, at one time, a Dutch tea time staple - and may still be if the television ads are anything to go by. The same goes for the ubiquitous ovenschotel (oven dish involving mince and/or pasta), and chicken with apple sauce. There are, however, some classic Dutch winter warmers, all based around the humble potato which have a lot to recommend them. And a generous amount of fried bacon bits (spekjes) are essential in every one. Hutspot Absolutely the best among the Dutch mashed meals, hutspot is probably related...  More >

Podcast: The Dog Ate My Flag Edition

DutchNews podcast – The Dog Ate My Flag Edition – Week 46 In this week's podcast we ask how the government can afford to give away €1.4 billion to foreign shareholders but only has €100 to spend on a flag for the Parliament chamber. Our favourite football manager Dick Advocaat bows out on a high note, a student fights for the right to be employed by Deliveroo and the OECD confirms what we've always suspected about Dutch doctors. Meanwhile, gummy bears caused a commotion in Utrecht while raw herring and manure were tainted with the whiff of corruption. In our discussion we investigate why the MH17 disaster has become a target for peddlers of fake news and conspiracy theories. Top story Government stands firm on dividend tax plan News Deliveroo courier takes company to court over freelance contracts Dutch doctors least likely to prescribe antibiotics Foreign students at Dutch universities double in 10 years Herring test results 'unreliable' (NOS, Dutch) Flag in Parliament cost €100 (Telegraaf, Dutch) Tweede...  More >

Anne Frank remains important symbol

Give everyone the opportunity to learn about Anne Frank Hardly a day has gone by in recent weeks without Anne Frank cropping up in the news. What is going on? asks Ronald Leopold, executive director of the Anne Frank House. Football fans used her photo for an antisemitic provocation of their opponents, American stores were offering an Anne Frank costume for Halloween, the German railway company wanted to name a train after her, and there was an outcry - including threats of legal action - in connection with a new play loosely based on her diary. Seventy years after the publication of her diary the significance of Anne Frank seems only to be increasing. But this significance is not the same for everyone. Anne Frank has traditionally been seen by many as the face and the symbol of the Holocaust, even though objections have been raised against this, often based on good arguments. For example, it is often pointed out that the diary ends where the horrors of the camps begin, that Anne is ‘only’ one of the millions of victims of the...  More >