Graduation in the Netherlands and other countries alike is an important event. But hanging the schoolbags on flagpoles? You won’t find it anywhere else. Why? Because it’s a weird Dutch tradition after graduation.
A Brief Introduction Of The Dutch School System – Graduation In The Netherlands
The first thing to know is education is required from five to 16 in the Netherlands.
The Dutch primary education structure is straightforward. Meanwhile, the secondary education system is a bit more complex. The secondary school system in this country consists of three streams.
The first one is VMBO which prepares students for vocational training. Students who follow VMBO finish the track at 16.
The second one is HAVO. HAVO is for students who have the desire to enroll in an applied science university in the future. Students graduate from the HAVO track when they are 17.
And the last one is VWO. This stream will build the background for students who want to pursue a degree at a research university. Since the nature of this system is research-oriented, the graduation time is the longest. It takes about 6 years to accomplish the stream.
So, that’s why the time of graduation in the Netherlands is vary. It depends on what stream you choose.
What Does It Mean When Hanging Schoolbags On Flagpoles?
The Dutch generally hang their school bags in the 2nd week of June. This is the time when students get their final test results. Also, it marks the beginning of the summer holidays.
The meaning of this cultural tradition is to announce to the public the children’s successful education. It can be understood that their academic worries are gone as well.
And sometimes, Dutch families do not just hang their kid’s backpacks. They even add notebooks or a banner. The text on the banner usually is geslaagd, which means “passed”.
Why Is It Weird? – Graduation In The Netherlands
It’s because this tradition only exists in the Netherlands!
When you see this phenomenon in any other nation, you may have the opposite thought. Maybe a child is not doing well in school, so his parents punish him by hanging his bag, for example. Or a worse situation, the child is struggling in his own home. Especially, seeing this at night easily makes you think of scary things.
There are surely few people who think this is a way to celebrate graduation!
Good Side Of The Quirk Tradition
However, we cannot deny that it’s a good way to brag about your academic results. You don’t have to say a word but everyone knows that you graduated. All you have to do is hang your schoolbags on flagpoles in front of your house.
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When a baby is born in The Netherlands visitors or colleagues are treated to a rusk with pink or blue sprinkles (muisjes). This is not weird or strange, this is just a Dutch tradition. Please don’t be so judgemental .