Dutch Language Blog

Love and Marriage Posted by on Nov 5, 2008 in Dutch Language

I am a romantic at heart. When watching television; tv shows, movies, soap operas… my one guilty pleasure is swooning over romantic marriage proposals. From the carefully planned dinners with the ring in a piece of ice cream, to the spontaneous proposals in the spur of the moment, with nothing but a piece of string to put around a finger… they all appealed to my romantic heart. And I have to admit… Dutch men have a lot to learn about romance. True… men everywhere have a lot to learn about romance and some Dutch men ARE romantic souls… but let me tell you how usually people get married in the village I came from.

It all starts easy enough. Boy meets girl, boy likes girl and vice versa, boy and girl start to date. So far so good.

Now, we get to the habit where all adolescent girls no longer get birthday presents they would actually like and enjoy… No, from the age of thirteen (especially if the girl dates a boy) the girl starts receiving convenient gifts she could use in her future house hold. From this age she will be collecting her ‘uitzet’ and I’m sorry… but I couldn’t find a proper English translation.

Towels, all kinds of cleaning cloths, glasses, mugs, silver wear, china, food processors, sowing machines, blenders, pots and pans… anything you can imagine using at home… those are the gifts you’ll start to receive.

So, girl is creating a nice collection for IN the house, while the boy studies, finds a job and saves money to be able to BUY a house.

The expression: “Hij heeft het nestje al, nu alleen nog het vogeltje” (he’s got the nest, now all he needs is the bird” is often heard where I come from.

And of course, the girl studies, finds a job and saves money to be able to buy the furniture for in the house. Of course, the money stays put in a savings account until she’s actually required to buy furniture. Often this happens after the engagement and the house is ‘prepared’ to be lived in. Tiles for kitchen, living room and bath room are chosen, wall paper designs are chosen and finally the shopping spree for furniture begins.

Where I come from, the boy makes sure the house is ready for live in and pays for that… while the girl takes care of almost everything else that belongs in the house.

Now, before we get to that moment… there is of course a need for a proposal.

Fortunately, these days women aren’t so easy to catch with a standard proposal or sometimes even – I kid you not- NO proposal at all!

What often used to happen is… when boy paid for the house or already had a house… and he had been seeing the girl for at least a couple of years… usually a term like: Well, when should be pick out the rings? Or… Isn’t it time to get married or something?… is all the girl gets and be content with. So, boy and girl go to the jeweller, pick a couple of golden rings and continue the business of informing the family, picking the date, shopping for the wedding dress, planning the reception… etcetera, etcetera.

Like I said, those times are luckily fading and men seem to realize that women need to be romanced every now and again… ESPECIALLY at such a crucial cross roads as the marriage proposal.

I just saw the movie Stepmom, I swoon and I sigh… and I pray that Dutch men will learn something about the oh so hated ‘chick flicks’!

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  1. Lori:

    Hi, I loved your blog. I visited the Netherlands for the second time in my life this year. It is so beautiful. I have a friend who lives near Rotterdam, and I stayed with her. She’s great.

    Hey, I noticed a word you used and you didn’t know the English equivalent. It was “uitzet”. A sort of collection of household items for a girl for when she gets married? In America, we call that a “hope chest”. There is usually a chest in which girls keep these items for when they marry and leave home. However, it is an extremely old-fashioned idea. Americans in the South might know what it means, but ask anyone in California and they might look at you funny. 🙂 They might look at me funny.

    You are right about men everywhere. Many lack the heart of a romantic. I hope your post inspires men to be more romantic and inspires women to be satisfied with nothing less. 🙂

  2. Ranses Jurado:

    Greetings to you all!

    Isn’t the “uitzet” the ‘dowry’?

    Thanks for the posts! They’re great!

  3. Maureen:

    In the Netherlands who pays for the wedding?
    In the US it’s “traditional” that the bride’s family pays for the wedding, while the groom’s family pays for a rehearsal/family/pre-wedding dinner as well as helping the couple with other expenses by a generous gift.
    I have friends whose son is engaged to a girl from the Netherlands. Her family has made it clear that they will be contributing nothing. The explanation they gave is that in Dutch tradition the couple pays for everything. I find this surprising. Are young couples so well-off in the Netherlands?