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The Dutch identity according to the Dutch

Today, the Dutch governmental research agency Social Cultural Plan Agency (SCP) released the results of a survey about the Dutch identity. This is the first research into the Dutch identity according to the Dutch. Through our blog we often share info on Dutch customs.

Dutch identity

Whereas 41% of the Dutch people think that there is a Dutch culture, 42% thinks that this is only sometimes the case. 6% is convinced that there is no such thing as a Dutch identity.

What is the Dutch identity according to the 41%? A combination of the Dutch language, the traditions and symbols. It is remarkable that Dutch people do not notice big differences in gender, education, age and origins. Religion seems to have lost its unifying character for most people in the Netherlands.

Typical symbols and traditions

A typical tradition is Kings Day (April 27), when the Dutch people -usually quite calm- turn into complete orange party animals. Same thing happens when the Orange football team is successful in an important tournament.  Most Dutch people feel united during these events. Other important traditions are Liberation Day (May 5), Sinterklaas, eating oliebollen (deep-fried doughnut balls), and skating on natural ice in winter time.

The Dutch culture is also the Dutch landscape, its special cloudy skies, the polder, and the continuous fight against the water.


There is a rather big potential area of conflict between people who appreciate the symbols and traditions highly and the people who emphasize their civil rights (such as freedom to speech). This is clear in discussions about for instance Black Pete, in which the emotions of both advocates and opponents are very present.

People who appreciate the symbols and traditions like to keep these as they are and ask the government to preserve these. People who favour their freedom of speech, religion and right to demonstrate think that the government should preserve those rights.

The result of this contrast is that there can be tensions around some traditions, like Kings Day and Sinterklaas. Social media can sometimes increase these tensions.