Diversity & integration of Dutch Culture at home
01 december 2020 
11 min. read

Diversity & integration of Dutch Culture at home

Dutch Culture Integration; Diversity at home

When speaking of Diversity, living in the Netherlands has impact on you and your complete family. Meaning you, your spouse and of course your kids. This Dutch culture, like any other, is rich in traditions. And this you will experience especially during the ‘most wonderful time’ of the year. And how does this form of  Diversity integrate into your family life?

Diversity & integration; living together or apart?

When moving to another country like the Netherlands, you learn in your social environment what Dutch culture is about. But also from your kids you will learn a lot of stuff on the cultural part pretty soon. All Dutch and International schools in the Netherlands will follow most Dutch traditions and explain some of the background of the Dutch Culture.

Diversity & integration are a two way street.

In relation to that, we also see it the other way around; Diversity & integration are a two way street. Nowadays many American traditions have been integrated firmly into Dutch culture. For example, in the Netherlands we now celebrate Valentine’s day, Halloween and Christmas much more than we used to before. As a result of that, there is more marketing & merchandise on these events than ever. Due to this, some Dutch might feel that Santa Claus (which they call the ‘Kerstman’) has repressed Sinterklaas a bit to the background.

Sinterklaas is an expat

Sinterklaas is a national beloved figure here. He is adored especially by kids under the age of 10. This bishop orginally from Myra-Turkey (now that’s Diversity) is believed to live in Spain.. This old white-bearded man in a red robe, named Sint (Saint) travels every year on a steam-boat to the Netherlands. Where he yearly arrives on November 18th with his Support Crew of Pieten (Peters), to carry all the presents.
This childrens’ Hero Sinterklaas, has a large book in which he records who has been good. Or bad. Really means a child receives presents on December 5th on “Pakjes-avond’. Sinterklaas, old man on a white horse, is always accompanied by his athletic Support Team of Peters (Pieten). All presents are throw into the chimney, so Sinterklaas has a very acrobatic white horse as wel.
As you can see, a lot of details are quite similar to Santa, but in a different way.

Dutch Culture in celebrating Sinterklaas

Most presents from the Sint come with small poems. And in these poems you can find sometimes some sarcasm and irony. Which is allowed and even appreciated. There  might be even a lesson in this accompanying poem. The Dutch just love to do that to one another. Maybe this is even the most indirect way they communicate within families, Their Sinterklaas is the channel!
After kids stop believing in this holy Sinterklaas, families change the tradition into a family night with ‘surprises’. They pick names and for this specific name, surprises are crafted to symbolise something. The surprise a throw-away thing, sometimes a high quality object made with skill and effort. But also sometimes a dirty one with sticky elements. The present is mostly hidden in the surpise.

Diversity and  it’s impact on Dutch traditions

Dutch Culture has had many influences throughout the last decades, and the discussion of Sinterklaas’s Team has been one of Diversity in relation to slavery & discrimination.  This explains why we now have all sorts of Rainbow colored people in Sint’s Support Team.

Diversity is enriching

I remember visiting an American family in New York once; they still celebrated Sinterklaas after having lived in Holland for about 4 years. They just loved the tradition’, they said. And it’s a fun way to express deep and warm feelings, with some critical and edgy remarks here and there.
So our question today: Do you celebrate Sinterklaas? Or Santa? Or both (maybe your kids are cheering now).
And how do you do it? Let us know if Diversity is integrating some Dutch traditions into your family life for you.


About the author
Marian (Hilversum, the Netherlands) is an experienced Training Expert & L&D Manager since 2004. "My biggest passion is to develop people, getting the highest results on all professional levels". Her drive for Excellence has led to her own company Xellens (2004) which delivers Consultancy, Program Management and Training on several journeys that Lead to Customer Excellence. Her most recent customers vary from Unilever, Johnson Controls International, MSD, NIKE, KLM-Air France, Johnson & Johnson and several other Multinationals. Her areas of expertise focus on Communication with Impact, Negotiation & Selling Skills, Customer Experience, Servant & Courageous Leadership, Cultural Change, Diversity, Innovation and Personal Development. All these factors contribute to new ways and possibilities for her customers to stay sharp and in poleposition in their current competitive markets. She has been at the start of worlwide Academies for multinationals like Johnson & Johnson. Marian has high energy and passion for Learning & Development, which was part of her professional career of 26 years. During those years she was responsible for different Business Units (IT), Sales & Marketing or General Management leading positions, set-up of new Innovation oriented Project departments in several sectors like IT, Technical Services, Pharma and Industrial markets. She loves to get people to their next level, creating constructif growth in Companies based on Talent Development. Circulair learning as in Circular Building. She has done multiple projects where she constructed several Learning Academies and Talent Models that are still used and have proven their Effectiveness and Value. She is frequently asked as keynote speaker, mediator and presenter and recommend for her speed in connecting different aspects of issues, constructive thinking with Humor or Moderator during Challenging times. With a Masters in a technical area (Phonetics, Speech Automation), she finished Business School during her first job, and has currently two additional post Masters’ degrees on Customer Experience and Multi Channel Marketing. Also she is a certified MBTI Consultant, NLP Master Practicioner, DISC certified consultant, Ned Herrmann Whole Brain Dominance Instrument consultant, WorkPlaceBig 5 certified consultant, and an experienced Public Speaker, with several certifications (a.o. Black Belt Power Presenter). Recently (2020) she graduated from Robbins Madanes Training her Core100 BCCoach Program. Speaking several foreign languages fluently (Dutch, English, French and German), she is able to adapt easily to different cultures and work environments worldwide. Also Diversity is the spice of life and the foundation under any form of succes. She lived in different countries and is a passionate traveler-explorer. Privateley Marian contributes to the Soroptimists with Passion, doing all kind of world wide project to achieve equal rights on safety, development & education, and rights for Women. Walking, running, a healthy Lifestyle, Sustainablity are Big Interests for her; making the world and people better every day might sumarize it all best. Her son Koen (18) once described her: “ My mum just loves Learning & People so much, I just wished I had her during my High School. She makes Learning just a better Experience!”.
Place comment