Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Expat Blog Link Up - All About October in the Netherlands

It's here. October. Autumn. The last quarter of the year. And of course a new expat blog link up - you can find all the details at the bottom of this post!

Here, the sun has almost vacated to greener pastures, leaving the Netherlands grey and rainy with a fair share of wind which swirls the fallen yellow and brown leaves across pavements and roads. It's the time of year when the council strategically places bladkorven along the streets (essentially cages for leaves) in an attempt to encourage residents to clean the streets of leaves hence saving our tax money for far more worthy expenses. Like cutting down all our trees next year and unnecessarily repaving pavements. Anyway, October means lots of leaves on the ground and lots of leaves blowing around slapping you in the face which is a source of hilarity for my children.

October also means it is time for the kabouters to make an appearance. In essence little gnomes who live in toadstools. It usually means that a parasol decorated with a red and white polka dotted cover appears in the infant classes in school. Little, plain wooden stools are transformed into toadstools.

That's when you know autumn is here.

It's also the time of year for Dutch brewed bokbier, beer perfect for sipping on those darker, romantic evenings in front of the fire, with the shadows of candle flames dancing gently around on the walls.

And then of course the Dutch supermarkets anticipate our need for more substantial meals to warm us up when the evenings start getting chillier. In short, we are being eased gently in to winter. Packets of dark green boerenkool appear in the weekly specials, as well as Unox sausages, and there are potatoes everywhere to make piles of stamppot. Or as a variation, ingredients for hutspot. If you are not yet familiar with these Dutch delicacies then have no fear, you soon will be (See number 7 in this list).

Soup is also very popular in the Netherlands at this time of year. Thick, vegetable filled soups with pink sausage bobbing on the surface like little rafts. The supermarket fridges are stacked with packets of every type of vegetable you could possibly imagine to put in a soup, already cut up and prepared for your homemade broth. Pea soup is also a local delicacy, served with chunky, brown bread and pink sausage floating on the top. For those of you paying attention you may have spotted a theme running through Dutch autumn and winter food.......

On the subject of food, the supply of Sinterklaas goodies starting escalating when we hit October, Kruidnoten have been in the supermarkets since the summer holidays ended but now the chocolate letters come out in force. I'm guessing this is so you can practice stuffing your face with sweets and chocolate before Sinterklaas and his merry helpers enter the country in November, by which time you have it mastered and are ready to celebrate their arrival in style. You are also five kilos heavier by the time November creeps up on you.

Pompoenen. No October post about the Netherlands would be complete without mentioning pumpkins. Growing up in England pumpkins meant Halloween to me. We annually carved a face in a pumpkin and voila, we were ready for Halloween. Here pumpkins appear well before the end of October. In fact, I spotted lots of eager households who had gone pumpkin crazy in September already. However, in October pumpkin fever really begins. Front porches, gardens and steps are adorned with orange, green and yellow pumpkins of all sizes and shapes. Pumpkins mean autumn.

That's not to say that the big round, carving sort of pumpkins don't appear because they do. It's a relatively recent phenomena but Dutch supermarkets have started stocking huge orange varieties with a black sticker depicting a face showing you how to carve the perfect scary, toothy grin. Closing October out with a spot of trick and treating is growing in popularity, but is certainly not yet at the same level as in the United States or Britain, not even close.

The Dutch are renowned (at least amongst the expats) for being sun worshippers. However, they are also incredibly adaptable and are perfectly capable of embracing the autumn months with almost as much enthusiasm as the summer months. Almost. One thing the Dutch do well is gezelligheid, and that is a word that perfectly sums up autumn in the Netherlands.

Here's wishing you all a gezellig, bokbier, potato, sausage and pumpkin filled October!

And now over to you - how does October look in the country you call home?

Expat Life with a Double Buggy


  1. Of course, here in Australia, October means spring! Enjoyed your October description though. As I do all your writing!

  2. I love the theme of this linkup and have added my 2 cents worth! It's fascinating to hear that the Dutch have so many autumnal foods and traditions. In all my 17 years in France I haven't noticed anything as seasonal as what you've described. There is certainly no decorating of front steps with pumpkins and luckily (I think) no hint of Christmas yet. Halloween goes through phases of being trendy and is on the wwanr but I'll write about that later in the month. Thanks for hosting this linkup!

  3. "wwanr" should say "wane"! Urgh, typos!!!

  4. Aaah! The kabouters! I love them.

  5. Sounds like October is very special in the Netherlands! Love all the pumpkins. Thanks for doing this blog link up Amanda, I've added mine :-)

  6. Just wanted to let you know I've nominated you for a Liebster Award, hop on over to my blog "Danica's Thoughts" for the details!
    :) Danica

  7. Phoebe and I must be on exactly the same wavelength. I woke up this morning, realised the date and decided to write an "October in Normandy" blog post, only to find an email in my inbox saying she had just done the same for Provence ... and hence I stumbled across your linky! Therefore have another bonjour from France albeit a bit further north that Phoebe.

    Great pumpkin carving by the way .... mine are always a lot more basic than that.

  8. Isabella Schoeman Greeff During the months of October and November, Pretoria is transformed into a glowing purple mass - the Jacaranda trees are in bloom! Jacarandas line the streets and dot the parks and gardens throughout the city and carpet their floors with their bee-attracting blossoms.
    It is estimated that there are between 40 000 and 70 000 Jacaranda trees in Pretoria - nicknamed the Jacaranda City - which choreograph their spectacular show over an eight week period in late spring each year.

  9. What a fun blog post idea, i will have to create my own and return and report.

  10. I just squeezed in another post before the end of the month, this time on Halloween. I hope that's OK.