Dutch people like normalcy. The Dutch expression “Doe normaal” roughly translates to “just be normal, already!” “Doe normaal” is the kind of statement your Grandma might say to you in church if you were blasting Hip Hop tunes from your iPhone during the Lord’s Prayer. But, it’s not your Grandma saying it, and you certainly aren’t 12 anymore. This time it’s your Dutch partner saying it, your colleagues thinking it, the shopkeeper whispering it under their breath, and your neighbours tsk tsking about it behind your back.
So, just what does “being normal” actually mean in the Netherlands? Well, the easiest way to define acceptable normal Dutch behaviour is to list the biggest offenders of non-normalcy. They are, in no particular order:
2. showing off or acting pretentious
3. discussing money (or how much you have or make)
4. showing a little too much personality
5. showing overt public displays of emotion
6. not following the ever-important unwritten rules and regulations of the Lowlands
7. acting or being perceived as too “weird”, “different”, “disobedient” or “foreign”
If you are out and about in the Lowlands and you hear the phrase “Niet normaal” uttered with contention under someone’s breath or said in conjunction to something you have just said/done, you can safely assume you have crossed some invisible boundary of socio-cultural norms. Congratulations are in order: you have officially been deemed “not normal”. Better re-trace your steps and see what exactly the fuss is all about – or – just get on with your business and accept it as a bizzaro stamp-of-approval.
So, as you can see Dutch people like normalcy ..and it can be proven. When asked to define the Dutch national character, 9 out of 10 Dutch people quoted the saying: “doe maar gewoon, dan doe je al gek genoeg”. Translation: just act normal, that’s already crazy enough!!