Dutch people love a good borrel. Or should I rephrase: they love a good excuse for having a borrel. Borrels are quintessentially gezellig; and gezelligheid is, of course, quintessentially Dutch.
Confused? Well there’s more: what exactly is an appropriate translation or definition for the Dutch word borrel? It’s much more than “drinks” and not as formal as a “function” or “reception”. According to our good ol’ friend Mr. Wikipedia, a borrel is:
1. an informal designation for a small glass of spirits
2. an informal social gathering of a select (invited) group, often with a theme
The second definition is a concise summary, but an exact English translation (or word in this case) is no where to be found. Which is why you will hear many an English-speaker living in the Netherlands using the Dutch word borrel intermittently in their English; there just isn’t a better word to use in its place.
There are some important things to note; for instance, Dutch people consume borrel hapjes at borrels. Borrel hapjes consist of a limited selection of
deep deeply fried snacks. Now of course, we all know that Dutch people love to slap a “tje” on to the end of words in a fond, lovingly sort of way. So a smallish borrel mixed with the right amout of gezelligheid will soon become a borreltje. In the same vain, a Dutch person can be seen to also consume borrelnootjes at at this borreltje. Borrelnootjes aren’t just any kind of nut: they are deep fried nuts, especially for the occasion (yes, you read that correctly: deep. fried. nuts.).
So to summarize: soon many a Dutch person will go to their work’s kerstborrel and eat borrelnootjes and borrelhapjes while sitting at a borreltafel . They may even engage in a little borrelpraat while sipping their borrel from a borrelglas.
It is safe to say that on any given evening, there are literally hundreds (perhaps thousands) of borrels happening across the country. Haven’t been to an official borrel yet? Well, it’s high time to crawl out from under that rock of yours. Get borrel-ing!