Valentine’s day in the Netherlands

Did somebody say Valentine’s Day? Wow, February is already here, eh? And with it, as per every February, it’s brought round that dreadful, or delightful day of love.

That’s right, guys and gals, get ready to be asked who your valentine is pretty soon, and also be ready to be pushed into buying cards and chocolates for your boo simply because Hallmark make you feel bad if you don’t.

A childhood trauma

You know, I remember being in, I dunno, it was sometime in primary school at least, and having a bright red envelope lobbed at my face. Truly romantic in every sense of the word right. Wrong. Some guy called Tommy wanted to be my valentine, and guys, I didn’t even understand the concept at that age. All I saw were my classmates sniggering at me, and all I felt was my face turning the same crimson shade as Tommy’s card.

I don’t think I even opened it. So shocked and embarrassed by this display of romance was I, that I couldn’t even face seeing what was inside the envelope. Tommy, a boy that I’d never even spoken to, didn’t even know that the way to my heart (at least back then, anyway) was through a punnet of tomatoes and a Petit Filous. How dare he think that lobbing a red envelope at my young head would merit a reward.

I did not take Tommy up on his offer to be my valentine.

Valentine’s Day in my eyes…

… is a blatant way to get money out of people and make people feel bad for not showering their other half with love. Or showering their crush with overpriced goods. I don’t enjoy it. As that age-old expression goes: “you shouldn’t need one special day to show them you love them, it should be every day” – and I hope you said it in the mimicking tone that I wrote it in too.

Personally, I hate surprises, as you can probably tell by my valentine’s horror story of my formative years. Red envelopes creep me out ok.

Now, before you all decide that I am the equivalent of Valentine’s Day Scrooge, whoever that might be, I’m here to tell you that I’m not. I don’t hate Valentine’s Day so much that I refuse to take part in it. You’d better believe that I’ll spend my money on overpriced chocolates. On absolutely any day of the year. I love chocolate, so why would I not? Also, I do appreciate a punny card and love a good chuckle at all the delights that fill the shelves from the start of February.

Will R and I be celebrating? No. It’s not our style. And you shouldn’t feel forced into it either. Sure, give your valentine an extra peck that day, or go the whole hog if you want to, but it’s gotta be because you want to, ok.

Do the Dutch celebrate Valentine’s Day?

Sorry to keep you all hanging in there whilst I moaned about old Valentine’s Day, but I’m finally ready to address the actual topic of this blog post.

Yes, the Dutch seem to be fond of good old St. Valentine.

Ik vind je lief pretty much means… I like you, but in that cute way

At the end of January, you’ll find their shelves filling up with visions of red, pink and purple. Cards are put on display everywhere, and huge displays of cute cadeaus will suddenly spring out of nowhere. You’d think that the whole world was celebrating Valentine’s Day with delight.

Just this last Monday, we were shopping in our favourite cheap store, Action (all hail Action), and I could hear the excited, yet nervous giggles of two young teenage girls. They were huddling dangerously close to the valentine’s rack, and quite frankly, if I didn’t know exactly how embarrassing it is to seek out and purchase a valentine’s gift at 13 years old myself, I’d have thought they were about to shove some fake rose petals and overpriced chocolate into their pockets and run out of there sharpish.

They were good girls though, and, in fact, they joined us at the back of the queue to purchase their romantic gifts. On the conveyor belt behind our gel douche and bog rolls, they added their cute mugs and overpriced chocolate combo and continued to giggle and hyperventilate at the same time.

It got even worse a moment later when another young teenage girl entered the shop. The screams were horrendous.

‘OMG look she’s here too!’ said one of the teenagers to her queue friend.

‘OMG we’re buying valentine’s stuff’ shouted queue friend at the new friend.

She ran over in what I assumed was delight. Her bright crimson face showed that she was also incredibly on edge. I remember it well, that sugar-coated high of adrenaline that comes with embarrassing teenage moments.

‘I’m here to buy something too’ she confessed, spotting their goods on the conveyor belt.

More screaming ensued. Thank God the gel douche was next to be scanned.

We left before we found out what teenage girl number 3 decided to buy for her valentine. I just hope they all know that lobbing their gifts at their valentine is not considered romantic.

They even get into it with their cards

Naturally, you’ll find every kind of card on display during valentines, and I’ve definitely done my fair share of gawking and looking at their cute, and sometimes filthy front covers.

Two which particularly caught my eye though were these gems:

‘Cow Van Jou!’ Geddit???

Probably not, my mostly English speaking audience.

In Dutch, you don’t say I love you, you say Ik hou van jou, which just means the same thing.

As you can see, ‘cow’ replaces ‘Ik hou’, so if you were wondering how to pronounce the words, now you know. It just sounds like cow. Lol.

This second card made alarm bells ring. And it doesn’t even have a red envelope. No this one makes me think a little bit of Joe, or Will, or whatever he’s calling himself nowadays:

Guys, it literally says ‘I have an eye on you’. God knows what it means in Dutch, whether it’s just a card for possessive personality types or it actually means something cute????

I beg a Dutch person to let me know.

Final thoughts?

So yes, ok, while the Dutch do appear to go wild for love on the outside, I don’t know of anyone who actually takes part in the tradition of Valentine’s day other than the entire 13-year-old population.

Whilst you won’t find me showering R in any material gifts, I sure hope those girls from Action picked well and that their chosen valentine enjoys those overpriced chocolates!

What about you? Are you a fan of Cupid or would you rather draw the curtains and shower yourself with a little bit of self-love?


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  • Nikki says:

    I’ve got my eye on you 😉 creepy or cute? Who knows!

  • Manon says:

    Ik heb een oogje op jou would translate to I’ve got a crush on you. I think.

  • Gill says:

    I am with you on this one Simone. 👍

  • Dalia says:

    I’m with you on the valentine’s day front. I’m not a huge fan of over the top gestures, I guess the older I get the more I appreciate every day simplicities. I think you and I both know how well taken care of I am on a daily basis (lol) so it truly doesn’t bother me that we won’t do gifts or go too far out of the norm for holidays and birthdays. With that said, I am a romantic, so just doing something slightly different (like ordering pizza) or just making a point of giving each other an extra hug is more than enough for me!

    • Simone says:

      You definitely have an angel at home, that’s for sure hehe, and it is always nice to add a little bit of romance once in a while, but over the top gestures deffo aren’t the way forward in my opinion. I think it’s much more important to spend that extra time to talk or listen to your loved one, or like you say, order a pizza to share or what have you and just spend a little bit of extra time with them that we take for granted most days because they’re just there. I like your thoughts on the whole thing too 😀