Dutch Americans

Dutch History

Several Europeans came to settle in North America in the 17th Century. Dutch settlers were among them as they settled on the island of Manhattan. The first Dutch settlers isolated themselves in small communities. Explorers spread their Dutch influence down the eastern shores claiming new settlements for the Dutch. Two hundred years later, Dutch immigrants found numerous communities already established to settle. In the 19th century Dutch immigrants continued to come to America fleeing famine (extreme hunger and starvation). Dutch immigrants also came to America because of their dissatisfaction with political and religious happenings in their country. This wave of settlers found their way to the Midwest states and on the West Coast. At the end of World War II, Dutch immigrants were escaping the chaos of the war.

Dutch Influence on America

We can thank our Dutch ancestors for many celebrations in America. Among the common festivities that are celebrated include St. Nick, Christmas, New Years and birthdays. Dutch ethnic groups celebrate The Feast of Saint Nicholas. Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of children. At this feast, children are the focus and receive presents, candy and poems. In the Dutch culture, Christmas is celebrated for two days (December 25 and 26). The ethnic group views it as a time of togetherness. Unlike many households today, the Dutch do not exchange gifts and they spend time celebrating with only thier immediate families. The Dutch New Year's Eve celebration occurs on December 31. They refer to it as Old Year's Night. They share pastries such as Oliebollen with family and friends. At midnight fireworks are set off and they express their "good intentions" for the following year. The celebration continues the next morning by visiting parents and/or family. Birthdays in the Dutch culture are eagerly celebrated by all, no matter the age. They consider it anti-social if one were to ignore their birthday. Family and friends visit on birthdays, but do not bring birthday gifts or treats. Instead, the birthday boy or girl is the one who treats others. It is customary to bring patries to work or school to celebrate ones birthday. BIrthdays are referred to as Year Days in the Dutch heritage.

Famous Dutch Americans

  1. James Madison
  2. Martin van Buren
  3. Zachary Taylor
  4. Ulysses S. Grant
  5. Jefferson Davis
  6. Theodore Roosevelt
  7. Franklin D. Roosevelt
  8. Eddie Van Halen
  9. Rutger Hauer
  10. Paul Verhoeven
  11. Adam Curry
  12. Willem de Koning
  13. Walter Cronkite
  14. Thomas Edison
  15. David Petraeus
  16. Chris Van Hollen
  17. Dick Van Dyke
  18. Humphrey Bogart
  19. Jane Fonda
  20. Bruce Springsteen

Roosevelt reads from a Dutch family Bible before his inauguration in 1933.


Speculaas are traditional Dutch biscuit/cookie baked on St. Nicholas' Eve (Dec. 5).

4 c Flour
1 c Butter
1 1/2 c Brown sugar
1 t Salt
4 t Baking powder
1 t Cinnamon
1 pn Cloves
1 pn Nutmeg
1 pn Ginger
1 pn Black pepper
Blanched almonds OR Candied fruit peel (optional)

PREHEAT OVEN TO 325F. Mix all ingredients but the almonds and candied fruit peel together. Add milk until it makes a stiff paste that can be rolled out. Roll into sheets and then press blanched almonds and chopped candied peel on top, if you desire. Cut into rectangles roughly 2-by-4-inches and transfer to a greased cooking sheet. Bake until light brown.

Serving Size : 24