Regional Language and Culture

Of course, Overijssel is part of the Netherlands and the culture is mostly the same as anywhere else in the Netherlands. However, there are some noteworthy and typical traditions that distinguish Overijssel from the rest of the country. With own dialects, food, celebrations and traditions, the different regions in Overijssel all have their own character. But despite some differences, their traditions are pretty similar. Overall, the regional culture and feeling of belonging in the regions of Overijssel is strong.


The dialects that are spoken in the province of Overijssel belong to the West Low German (Nedersaksisch) dialects. These can be divided into three main dialects: Stellingwerfs (Kop van Overijssel), Sallands (Salland) and Twents (Twente). However, within these dialects there are many different versions. There are over 50 different dialects throughout Overijssel; almost every city or village has their own typical dialect.

That way, there are many different ways to say different words. Some examples:

English: house

Dutch: huis

In dialect: hoes, huus, uus

English: man or boy

Dutch: kerel

In dialect: kaerel, keal, kearel, keel, kjeal

English: girl

Dutch: meisje

In dialect: daerntie, deerntie, deerntje, meiken, meaken, wich, wicht, wichie, wichke, wichtke

English: neighbour

Dutch: buurman

In dialect: buuman, buur, buurmon, naober, noaber, noawas

English: to talk / talking

Dutch: praten

In dialect: kuiern, kuijern, küren, kwaekn, praot’n, proat’n

English: telephone

Dutch: telefoon

In dialect: kuierdraad, kuierdroad, kuierdrood, luliezer, praotiezer



Many regions in the Netherlands have their own food and recipes and so does Overijssel. The food can be similar to versions in the provinces of Drenthe, Groningen and Gelderland. However, Overijssel has some very specific, unique specialties, often linked to its town of origin.

For example, in Deventer, they make Deventer koek. This cake is inextricably linked to the city, that is often called ‘Koekstad’ because of their specialty. Deventer koek is a spiced honey cake that has been produced for over 400 years by cake maker Bussink. Baking this cake on your own? Impossible, the age-old recipe is still a secret.

Zwolle is known for its ‘Zwolse balletjes’, a traditional old Dutch candy. De ‘balletjes’ are small little balls that taste sweet. They come in all kinds of forms and flavours and are also made according to a secret recipe. The candy is only available in one store in Zwolle; the ‘Zwolse Balletjeshuis’

‘Baklever’ (baking liver) and ‘bloedworst’ (blood sausage) are typical Twents (from the region of Twente). They are fat sausages that are sliced and baked in butter and go nice with some dark bread. You’ll find this regional specialty in many supermarkets. Blood sausage can be served with baked apples.

Another specialty from the region of Twente is ‘Twents kuiernat’. It is an alcoholic drink (30%) made with vanilla that is sometimes served next to your coffee.

‘Krentenwegge’ is a sweet bread with raisins served with a layer of creamy butter. This specialty is traditionally mostly eaten around Christmas and Easter. There are special, luxurious versions of this sweet bread around that time, called ‘stol’, filled with chopped almonds and almond paste and dusted with icing sugar.

Next to the national tradition of eating the so-called ‘pepernoten’, ‘speculaas’ and chocolate letters around the celebration of Sinterklaas, the town of Ommen has its own specialty around this holiday: ‘zuute plassies’. To give you an idea of what it is: ‘zuute’ means sweet and ‘plassie’ stands for bread.

‘Droge worst’ is a dried sausage, mostly eaten at a ‘borrel’ (drink) with your beer.

Balkenbrij is a dish that is mostly known in the eastern regions of the Netherlands, including Overijssel. It is traditionally made of stock left over from the making of sausages like liverwurst, boiled with flour and bacon, together with odd scraps and various organ meats of the animal. There is a great variety in recipes for this typical dish.


Celebrations and traditions

In Overijssel there are some unique celebrations and traditions. Also some national holidays have their own version or characteristics in Twente. For example a lot of villages in the province light bonfires (Paasvuur) on the evening of the Easter Sunday. It’s a get-together for the community but also open for guests. The fires are of impressive size, but always approved and supervised by the fire department. Feel free to bring your own drink to celebrate the end of winter and the beginning of spring.

Another popular tradition in the countryside of Overijssel is ‘carbid schieten’, which translates to English like ‘Carbide Shooting’. On New Year’s Eve, youngsters in the region gather in a deserted grassland with old milk cans to shoot away a football or the lid of the milk can. Make sure to cover your ears, as the noise that comes from the explosions are earsplitting.

On the afternoon of the 24th of December, Enschede and Hengelo have the tradition of ‘Kerstmiddag’ (Christmas afternoon). All bars are open from noon till eight and youngsters come to drink and celebrate their Christmas holiday. In the east of the Netherlands, people go cycling and picnicking on Ascension Day. This is called ‘dauwtrappen’ (stepping on the dew) since originally people used to walk and dance barefoot in the night or at dawn to cleanse themselves and mark a new period. Lots of people still start their cycling route early in the morning.

A unique tradition in Overijssel (mainly in Twente and parts of Salland) is blowing the ‘midwinterhoorn’. This is a hand carved wooden pipe that is traditionally played from the first Sunday of Advent (fourth Sunday before Christmas) until Three Kings (6th of January). Enjoy the deep sounds and typical melodies at one of the Christmas events during this period with markets, glühwein and hot chocolate.

In spring and summer, many villages in Overijssel have their annual festivities. Some of those ‘zomerfeesten’ (summer parties) grew from small local parties into proper festivals and are open for everybody. Like in Beckum (Whitsun weekend), Sint Isidorushoeve (weekend of Ascension Day) and Hengevelde (2 weekends in June).

In July, Zwolle revolves entirely around the so-called ‘Blauwvingerdagen’. During this month, every Wednesday the city centre turns into one of the biggest fairs in the country. The fair is called after the inhabitants of Zwolle, who are colloquially referred to as ‘blauwvingers’ (blue fingers) after a 16th century money-counting fable.

Every year, in the last week of August, the village of Raalte revolves entirely around the Stöppelhaene. This is a big harvest festival where old harvest traditions come to life, with a big parade and performances of famous Dutch artists.

Overijssel is home to some of the country’s biggest flower corso’s. Every year, in Vollenhove and Sint Jansklooster, the most beautiful creations of flowers parade through town.


If you should need further information, or have more questions, you are always welcome to visit the Expat Centre website ( or contact them via email (