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5 Traditional Dutch games (oud-Hollandse spelletjes)

Have you ever been to Koningsdag (King’s Day) in the Netherlands? There is a good chance you have seen some oud-Hollandse spelletjes (literally “old-Dutch games”). These games are not only played on Koningsdag, but also at sports days at schools, family gatherings, or at children’s parties. Here are five oud-Hollandse spelletjes, with the instructions, so you can play it at home!




What you need: an empty bottle, a piece of string, a nail (for each participant)

During spijkerpoepen (=nail pooping), each participant ties a piece of string with a nail around their waist. Make sure the nail dangles behind you. You then have to squat above the bottle and try to lower the nail into the bottle. The person who does this first wins.



What you need: rope or string, a cookie for each participant

With koekhappen (literally: “cookie biting”), a cookie, usually ontbijtkoek (a type of gingerbread), hangs from a rope or ribbon. Participants must try to eat the cookie without using their hands, the person who eats the first cookie, wins.



What you need: sjoelbak

Sjoelen is a game in which players must slide wooden discs (the sjoelstenen) through slots in a shuffleboard (the sjoelbak) to score points. Each player gets three chances to slide the discs into the four boxes at the end of the shuffleboard. For each box, you get the points that are marked on the front. The person with the most points wins the game.




What you need: a pair of stilts (for each participant)

In steltlopen (= stilt walking), participants have to walk on wooden stilts. You can either do a race or try to complete a course without falling.




What you need: a burlap bag (for each participant)

Zaklopen (= bag walking) requires participants to step into a burlap bag and then attempt to walk or jump to the finish line. The fastest person wins!


Veel plezier met de oud-Hollandse spelletjes!

Have fun with the games traditional Dutch games!


Check out part 2 of oud-Hollandse spelletjes here!

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