Dutch Language Blog

Dutch Superstitions: True or Untrue? Posted by on Jan 12, 2012 in Culture

Tomorrow is the big 13, as in Friday the 13th that is.  For many people this date alone fills them with dread and the worry that everything that could go wrong will. But are the Dutch superstitious?  This was a question I was thinking about this morning and to be honest, I could not think of a single instance where I have heard of a Dutch person worried about Friday the 13th.

So I headed to Google to see if I could find any answers on the question.  While I did find quite a few lists of supposed Dutch superstitions, including the general “don’t walk under a ladder,” there were many, many more that I had never heard of.  So, I tried some of them out on my resident Dutchie.

Me: “Should I sing at the dinner table?”

Him: “Well you can but I don’t think it will improve your singing any.”

Me: “No, but would you think I was then singing to the devil for my supper?”

Him: “Umm, no.”

Me: “Okay, well what about New Years?  Is what we are doing on New Years going to be what we do all year?”

Him: “Where are you getting these from.”

So, Transparent Language Dutch readers,, put me out of my misery and tell me what Dutch superstitions you have heard of or believe in.  I’m keen to find out.  Or, if you are feeling a bit uninspired, here are some of the ones I found when looking around.  Have you heard of them before in relation to the Netherlands?

True or Untrue? Some superstitions on the internet that are supposedly valid in the Netherlands:

  • “Knock knock — come in? Nope! If someone’s at your door, always open it for the guest. Why? Because according to Dutch superstitions, if the door blows open instead, you are inviting the devil inside your home!”
  • “Speaking of the devil, if you spill salt, not only should you make sure to throw it over your shoulder, but also that it is your LEFT — we want to throw it over the devil’s face!”
  • “New Years is coming and we all want a strike of good luck, right? Then make sure a dark-haired male is the first person to walk through your front door right after midnight.”
  • “Dutch superstitions say that whatever you do on New Year’s Day is what you will be doing rest of the year.”
  • “While Arabs usually utilize the hamza to guard off evil though, according to Dutch superstitions the same “protective” effect is achieved with black paint.”
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  1. ahmed:

    thanks alot for the nice article but i have a question to you. you said in the last part of the article :

    “While Arabs usually utilize the hamza to guard off evil though, according to Dutch superstitions the same “protective” effect is achieved with black paint.”

    the hamza is the first letter in arabic alphabet…. is that the hamza that you meant in the article or you have another meaning?? i am egyptian and didn’t hear about this before, so i am waiting to hear from you about that
    thank you very much

  2. heather:

    Hi Ahmed,

    That quote isn’t one we/I made, it is one found on another website (as were all the “supposed” superstitions that I mentioned).

    Since I am not the author of that particular quote I can’t say for certain what they meant when they used the word “hamza” but judging by what you have said, perhaps they were using the wrong word?

    Either way, you have taught me something new that “the hamza is the first letter in arabic alphabet.” So, thank you for sharing your knowledge on that.

    Hope that helps! 🙂


  3. ahmed:

    thanks heather for your kind reply

  4. Jeroen:


    I’ve never heard of most of these superstitions! When we spill salt at the diner table we do throw it (with right hand) over the left shoulder otherwise, supposedly, there will be a fight or argument later. And if sugar is spilled, better expect visitors. Nothing about the devil.

    Also, if you make a funny face in the mirror when the church bells ring, your face will be like that forever.

    Not sure for how many Dutch families this counts!


    • heather:

      @Jeroen I like the funny face/church bell one! Thanks for sharing Jeroen.

  5. Chris:

    Hi, although I’ve never heard of the singing at the table one, we have a strict rule not to do so. My Father says it was started by his Opa who refused to let anyone sing at the table. My own Opa was a bit less strict about it, but the punishment for singing at the table would be to give a dollar away. My own Father changed this to putting a dollar into our family’s travel piggy bank. My Dutch friend’s family also has a similar no singing rule which, if broken, results in no sweets for that person for a week.
    So while I’ve never heard of the connection of singing to the devil, I have seen a Dutch (possible) superstition regarding singing at the dinner table

  6. rick:

    Its true about the door, we always open the door but not becausr of the devil. Its more for being nice…i think most other superstition will be gone in the next few years as i’ve never heard of them…and i sing alot…

  7. Renate:


    The one Jeroen told is true, if we pull a funny face and the bells ring, your face will stay like that forever.

    Also, we’re also not allowed to sing at the dinner table, my mum never told me why exactly, she just says it’s not polite to do so. And we sing a song, holding our hands, before we eat, mum says if we do it, it brings good luck for people who don’t have anything to eat that evening. I don’t know if the last one is just us, but we grew up with those.