Dutch Language Blog

Dutch Eindexamens – Time to Hang Up The Schoolbag Posted by on Jun 12, 2019 in Culture, Dutch Language, Dutch Vocabulary, News

Today is an important day for over 200.000 Dutch school kids. This afternoon, they will hear whether they have geslaagd (graduated) or not – a big deal! It is accompanied by an interesting tradition…

Hang de tas maar uit!

Schooltas and vlag hung up – this student graduated! (Image by Kyon at Commons.wikimedia.org – public domain)

It is traditional in the Netherlands to hang up your schooltas (school bag) if you graduated. There has been quite some regen (rain) today, so some of these bags may no longer be usable! I did the same when I graduated, and my bag had to suffer through rain as well, but – surprise, surprise – it is still in a good condition. Read here about my experience in a blog post from 2014.

By hanging up the schooltas, you show to buren (neighbors) that you graduated, and so they may come by to feliciteren (congratulate) you! Others may also see the vlag out, and know by the schooltas that it is about graduation. This also kind of ties into the herkomst (origin) of this odd traditie (tradition).

This tradition probably started out in the 1950s. Back then, the vlag was only hung up for official celebrations, so in the beginning, hanging up the flag for something “mundane” like graduation was seen as disrespectful, especially towards the Royal house. As an answer, the tas was added, to show that this is a celebration for getting through the middelbare school (high school). Especially in the 1970s, when there was less heed for the royals, this tradition became normalized. And so, this tradition has only existed for a few decades.

In case you are wondering: There is a vlaggeninstructie (flag instruction), on how and when to hang up the vlag. While you are welcome to follow that vlaggeninstructie, you are free to do with the flag what you want to do. It is verplicht (mandatory) only for overheidsgebouwen (government buildings). In this sense, it is different from the US Flag Code that, while not enforced, carries a penalty if it is not followed.

Wachten maar

But how does the graduating work? Well, after you did all the exams, you have to wait. For a whole hour. You might get a call, which often is bad news – you have either gezakt (failed), meaning that you have to redo a year, or you can do a herkansing (re-examination), meaning that you can do a few exams again the same summer to still graduate. But still! You just wanna get all that behind you and focus on what’s next!

Gefeliciteerd (congratulations) to all that have geslaagd today!

Do you know somebody that got their results today? What do you think of the tradition to hang up your bag? Let me know in the comments below!


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About the Author: Sten

Hi! I am Sten, both Dutch and German. For many years, I've written for the German and the Dutch blogs with a passion for everything related to language and culture. It's fascinating to reflect on my own culture, and in the process allow our readers to learn more about it! Besides blogging, I am a German-Dutch-English translator, animator and filmmaker.


  1. Errol:

    What I am most impressed with is that the kids receive a phone call about their results in an hour! Here (South Africa), they have to wait for weeks and then a sheet with all the results is pasted up somewhere and put in the newspaper.

    • Sten:

      @Errol The kids have to wait in the Netherlands for some weeks too, because the correction goes through several stages and it all takes a bit of time. But yeah, when the results are in, it all happens within an hour! To be fair though, the netherlands is quite small and has quite a centralized school system, especially with these final exams. But it’s a pretty cool thing, yeah!:)