The Netherlands are a small country, but they present many unique cultural features compared to other European nations. Holland have a most peculiar wet territory, and the Dutch have learned through centuries how to live and how to manage it on a technical and political level. Holland was also a country of sailors and merchants, and many different cultures merged.

This series is meant to provide you practical tools in dealing with basic cultural glitches you will sure experience during your visit in the Low Lands.

The first cultural shock that a foreigner coming to the Netherlands have to face is related to the particular form of Dutch toilet vases.
The traditional Dutch toilet is shaped in a way that the user’s wastes are collected in a risen, dry shelf or plateau in the back side of the vase.


Dutch people, of course, claim that this system is the best one compared to other toilet models, and they could provide many technical reasons to demonstrate their arguments:

A plateau is very useful for studying waste, which can come in handy, especially with children. The second reason is equally practical: the shallow flusher does not spalsh back on the user’s buttocks [1]

Others argue that the Dutch, “if they can’t see land above water, they’re not happy” [2]. Despite being tongue-in-cheek, this statement grabs a deeper motivation for understanding the Dutch toilet morphology: toilet is a product of a precise cultural and semiotic code. Listen to Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek, on toilets and Ideology.


Dutch Culture Shots – Part I – Toilets

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