Culture, Dutch, Netherlands, School

Traktaties – How to Do Birthdays Dutch Style

Wednesday is my birthday which, if I was to celebrate in true Dutch style, would mean having you all over to my house to sit in a circle on borrowed chairs to drink coffee and eat soggy crackers with filet americain spread lightly upon them. Lucky for you I don’t roll like that. 

However, there is another tradition which the Dutch employ to celebrate een verjaardag which is far less painful than the dreaded birthday circle and that is the traktatie. In essence, that means that I bring in something lekker for my work colleagues to scoff, or my school classmates.

And the good thing about living among the Dutch is that you can take a pretty laid back attitude to what you bring in, and when you bring it in. I’m sure that there are competitive parents out there in the Netherlands, and I am sure there are Judgy van Judgesons out there too – but I am lucky enough to never have crossed paths with any of them.

My children have come home with anything and everything as traktaties from classmate’s birthdays over the years, from simple to intricate to imaginative. We’ve had the ‘bag of crisps’ treat (more than once), we’ve had a pencil, eraser and balloon and we’ve had dolphins made with a banana and hot air balloons filled with popcorn.

And over the years I’ve also had to put my fair share of traktaties together – three sons make for some serious work over the course of a year. It’s not just birthdays that require a traktatie – it’s the birth of a baby or leaving a school too. So here’s a few I made earlier……

So, tip number 4 for #LiveLikeaDutchie is if there’s a birthday in your house don’t forget the traktatie!
Are your children’s birthdays celebrated in their class? Do you mark your birthday in your work place? How? I would love to hear how birthdays are marked where you live!

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