A love/hate relationship: the Dutch-Belgian rivalry explained

that annoying sibling that you just sort of hate but additionally completely love? Effectively, it seems that very same sentiment can apply to nations too. For those who’ve lived within the Netherlands for lengthy sufficient you most likely observed this similar love-hate relationship taking part in out between the Dutch and the Belgians!

After all, a little bit of pleasant rivalry between nations isn’t exceptional (as a Dane, I’m taking a look at you Sweden). However the query stays: why do two nations that share quite a lot of similarities — together with a language — dislike one another a lot? 

In the end, it comes all the way down to historical past, faith, and fries.

Shared historical past

Earlier than getting all the way down to crucial purpose (fries, in fact 😉), let’s take a look at some historical past.

READ MORE | Dutch historical past hacked: 2500 years of Dutch life in 7 minutes (VIDEO INSIDE)

The Southern Netherlands, *cough cough* I imply…Belgium

The shared historical past between the Netherlands and Belgium began means again in 1815. After the autumn of Napoleon, The Congress of Vienna was charged with the tough job of making a steadiness of powers in Europe. 

In an try to make neither France nor Prussia too sturdy, an space beforehand often known as the Austrian Netherlands (trace: Belgium) was given to the newly based United Kingdom of the Netherlands.

For the approaching many years, the brand new ‘Southern Netherlands’ was dominated underneath Prince Willem I — identified extensively as William of Orange. Although we now thank him for the orange-mania that often sweeps throughout the Netherlands of at this time, the Southern Nederlanders weren’t followers of the prince (nor his taxation insurance policies or spiritual intolerance). 

So, as was the customized within the 18th and nineteenth centuries, the folks revolted in 1830.

The Belgian revolution in itself was comparatively short-lived. By October 1830, revolutionaries had arrange a provisional authorities and declared an unbiased Belgium. Now the one job was to determine on what foundation and by whom the brand new nation could be ruled — easy-peasy! 

Step one was grounding the brand new nation in legislation — so a Belgian structure was adopted in February 1831 which declared Belgium to be a preferred, constitutional monarchy. 

After setting as much as be a constitutional monarchy, the following step was to discover a king (who was neither too Dutch nor too French 😅). Lastly, on July 21, King Leopold took the throne and the revolution was formally seen as full. 

Tadaaa! An unbiased Belgium…

‘So what?’

This was just about William of Orange’s response after the Belgians declared their independence. In actual fact, he continued to wage conflict towards the newfound nation till the French mentioned non extra and intervened on the facet of Belgium. William of Orange additionally refused to recognise the nation till April 1839 — when he was pressured to by the Treaty of London.  

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William of Orange. Picture: Adriaen Thomasz/Wikimedia Commons/public area

Briefly, Dutch-Belgian relations didn’t get off to an ideal begin however fortunately time has mended the shaky beginnings. At this time, worldwide relations between the Netherlands and Belgium are sturdy — each nations are a part of NATO, the EU, and the Benelux. Collectively, they’ve additionally created the Dutch Language Union. 

READ MORE | What would occur if Belgium joined the Netherlands (Video inside!)

Nevertheless, simply because the 2 nations take pleasure in a wholesome relationship these days doesn’t imply historical past is forgotten. So, with a humorous nod to the tumultuous previous, the Dutch and Belgian (nonetheless) like to hate one another. 

What do the Dutch consider the Belgians?

Now that we’ve lined historical past, (and faith will come later), it’s time to speak about fries! 

One of many dividing traces between the Netherlands and Belgium is whether or not fries must be referred to as frietjes or patatjes. Whereas (most) of the Dutch argue for friet, the Belgians are adamant patat followers. Attention-grabbing as it could be, the Dutch and Belgian bantering doesn’t finish with this debate — the truth is, there are a selection of issues the Dutch maintain towards the Belgians (and vice versa).

Firstly, the Dutch wish to look down on the Belgians  — and particularly their roads.

Venturing on a street journey to Belgium along with a Dutchie you possibly can count on not less than just a few feedback about how the Belgian roads are “bizarre,” “dangerous,” and so forth. And whereas the depth of feedback will little question depend upon the Dutchie you’re driving with, there’s really one thing concrete to say for the distinction in street high quality! In 2018, the EU fee scored the Netherlands a 6.18 out of seven for his or her street high quality whereas Belgium solely landed a 4.39.

After all, Dutchies can’t depart it at roads alone. One thing additionally needs to be mentioned about their “shared” language. As a result of whereas Dutch is utilized in each nations, the Dutch spoken in Belgium is sort of completely different — and the Dutch audio system from the Netherlands like to make enjoyable of Flemish

Nevertheless, whereas they could make enjoyable of it, many additionally assume it sounds cute. This might be as a result of the Flemish pronounce the letter ‘g’ a lot softer than Dutch audio system — so if you happen to’re fighting the sturdy guttural ‘g’ sound within the Netherlands, be consoled that perhaps you simply sound Belgian. 😆

Different distinctions between Flemish and Dutch could be considered much like the variations English audio system discover between British English and American English — pronunciation and a few vocabulary typically differs.  

READ MORE | Going international: talking Dutch (Flemish?) in Belgium

Ask a Dutch particular person concerning the Belgians and also you’ll most certainly additionally hear that the Belgians are “dumb. Why? Actually, I nonetheless haven’t figured it out (and I don’t assume the Dutch actually know both 😂) however most certainly it comes all the way down to a good-natured sense of superiority. 

Maybe, it may be the shadow of a grudge left from the Belgian revolution in 1830. Or just that the Dutch assume Belgian authorities would’ve been higher off if the nation had remained part of the Netherlands, quite than changing into a rustic with three distinctive language areas. 

Regardless of the purpose, it’s all in good sport and the truth is that the common nationwide IQ between the Netherlands and Belgium solely differs by one level. 

And whether or not or not that’s why Dutch folks name Belgians dumb, one factor is for positive: the Dutch wish to assume their authorities is best organised, extra environment friendly, and richer. (Not less than, that was till the governmental scandals prior to now years — oopsies.) 

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The Dutch parliament in all its glory. Photograph by: © CEphoto, Uwe Aranas/Wikimedia Commons

What do the Belgians consider the Dutch?

That’s lots of shade thrown in direction of the Belgians, so let’s see what they must say concerning the Dutch.

Firstly, they agree with the remainder of the world that the Dutch are stingy — as a result of why move up on a superb stereotype, proper? Definitely, the saying “going Dutch” is well-used world wide and will have an ideal deal to do with the stereotype. (And it’s not fully unfounded — simply contemplate all these two euros Tikkie requests.) Nevertheless, the Dutch are usually not as stingy, as they’re frugal. The distinction is one in all mindset. 

Firstly, the Dutch are very Calvinist in nature, an ethos that performed an essential position within the shaping of Dutch id all through historical past — and contributed to creating the Netherlands a wealthy nation. 

However the Calvinist custom within the Netherlands shouldn’t be all there’s to a frugal mindset. Dutchies at this time additionally get extra satisfaction from saving their cash than folks from different nations with comparable economies. Dutchies then don’t (essentially) go low cost as a result of they’re stingy, however as a result of they firmly imagine within the significance of dwelling inside your means and saving up for outdated age.  

There’s additionally a notion amongst Belgians that the Dutch are boastful and cussed. Principally, that is the result of Dutch directness: one thing that doesn’t all the time go down effectively in Belgium, which is far more conservative. 

Lastly, it’s additionally not exceptional in Belgium to listen to the Dutch being known as “cheeseheads.” You would possibly assume the nickname is smart contemplating that the Netherlands is world-famous for its cheese manufacturing and since a Dutch lunch could be incomplete and not using a cheese boterham.

Nevertheless, the reason is far more fascinating than this! In actual fact, it’s thought that “cheeseheads” doesn’t discuss with the Dutch’ capacity to provide the golden lactose goodness, however to sporting helmets constituted of precise cheese vats. Yup, you heard that proper.

Throughout the time of Napoleon, Dutch cheese producers grew to become fed up with French troopers who’d steal their beloved Gouda. With the intention to defend themselves when confronting the troopers, Dutch farmers donned home made helmets constituted of cheese barrels — ‘et voila’, cheeseheads! Maybe choosing it up from the French, the Belgians then used “cheeseheads” as an insult throughout the Revolution.  


You may need observed that the Netherlands had a bit extra to say about Belgium than the opposite means round however, as in all sibling-like relationships, one is all the time the larger bully. 😉

Have you ever observed another points of this love-hate relationship between the Netherlands and Belgium? Inform us within the feedback beneath!

Characteristic Picture: valphoto/Depositphotos & ninette_luz/Depositphotos

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