(If you’ve never heard of the bible belt it’s a strip of land stretching from Zeeland to Drenthe made up of towns and villages where the most conservative of religions are practiced. There are often referred to as the 'black stocking churches' in reference to the sombre dress worn).
So despite the country being one of the least religious in Europe, religion plays a huge role in today’s society. If you were here during the first (new) King’s Day this year you may have been aware that because the date fell on a Sunday, King’s Day was celebrated on the Saturday before instead, Sunday being a day of ‘even less fun’ than the rest of the week.
If we look to the south of the Netherlands, the provinces of Brabant and Limburg are predominantly Catholic and anyone who has ventured south of the river will testify that the people there are ‘different’. Again this can be explained using religion. The Catholic Church is much more hierarchical that its Protestant counterpart (think of the layers of priests, bishops, archbishops, cardinals, pope) and society in general also tends to be less egalitarian and more hierarchical. The burden placed by Calvinism to lead a strict, sombre, sober life in the hopes of getting into heaven aren’t there for Catholics. They have that wonderful sacrament of confession. Take your sins to the priest, do the penance and hey presto you’ve got a clean slate again. Life therefore tends to be a lot more fun filled, easy going and relaxed. Just look at the amount of beer consumed each carnival! And as for agendas. Yes they do exist down south but planning and time keeping are a lot more relaxed than in the rest of the country.