Netherlands Traditions

Netherlands Traditions

Many of the traditional folkloric aspects have lost their original connotations, turning in some cases into national emblems (somewhat stereotyped) for the use and consumption of tourists or amalgamated into what is the pluriculturalism of the Dutch society, always tolerant and open in welcoming and integrate cultural elements belonging to other communities within it. Nevertheless, in some places there is still the historical memory of a folkloric heritage that draws on the most important events that took place over the centuries in the various regions. Almost completely disappeared are the indigenous forms of folk dance, replaced by dances of German and French origin, as well as the custom of wearing traditional clothes, except for some places in Zeeland, Volendam, northeastern tip of the Veluwe and on the island of Marken. The cultivation of tulips is still flourishing: since 1635, the year in which the bulbs were imported for the first time from Turkey, countless factories have been built completely dedicated to their cultivation. The high quality standard achieved by local flower growers in the production, selection of new varieties and the cultivation of cut tulips means that the export of fresh bulbs and flowers still makes a significant contribution to the country’s economy. The nerve center of this cultivation is the area between Haarlem, Lisse and Noordwijk, while the largest auction of flowers and plants in the world takes place every year in Aalsmer, near the Amsterdam airport. Another symbol of the country are the windmills, which have been declared national monuments. Introduced in Europe towards the end of the 12th century, in order to exploit wind energy, according to thesciencetutor, they spread enormously in the Netherlands because the absence of natural barriers made it possible to fully exploit the power of the wind. In the past they were also the mirror of family events: if the miller’s family had been struck by mourning, the arrangement and lack of wood of the blades indicated who had disappeared, while on holidays the blades were adorned with garlands, flags, festoons, Cupid’s arrows. The traditional houses are made of wood, painted in white and green. Famous throughout the world are those dating back to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, with the typical triangular pediment, which overlook the canals of the main cities. Modern architecture, especially in the major centers, overlaps with a whole folklore tradition that the Arnhem open-air museum tries to preserve: in the Netherlands, as in other places, a dangerous leveling is taking place and also the ancient local crafts (lace, caps, lace, ceramics, goldsmithing) is suffering heavily. As for the holidays, the most heartfelt is the Koninginnedag, which is celebrated on April 30, on the occasion of Queen Beatrix’s birthday and is considered a national holiday. The celebrations include parades, markets and sports activities; in the capital, in particular, the streets and canals are crowded with people and boats, as well as bars set up for the occasion and outdoor stages. Another important holiday is the feast of St. Nicholas (Sinterklaas) which occurs on December 6. The feast of the saint, patron saint of merchants and sailors, has lost its religious connotations, becoming over time a genuine popular festival deeply rooted in the tradition of the Netherlands. In January, if the ice conditions allow, the Elfstedentocht takes place(trip of the eleven cities), a marathon on skates of about 200 km, very popular in the country, which takes place in the countryside of Friesland. The winners are honored in the great party that lasts all night, between sounds and songs in the joy of folk dance (skotsetrje). In recent years, due to rising temperatures, it has not been possible (the last edition dates back to 1997). Finally, there are numerous festivals linked to the university traditions of cities famous for their institutes, such as Leiden and Utrecht. § The national gastronomy is not very elaborate and is mainly based on potatoes, often accompanied by meat and vegetables, on fish (such as herring, which can be eaten smoked and raw, marinated or accompanied by various sauces) and on cheeses, famous and exported all over the world. Another traditional specialty is chocolate, packaged in many refined varieties. Typical dishes include hustpot (based on potatoes, carrots, onions and meat), boerenkool met worst (mashed potatoes with cabbage and smoked sausage), pannekoeken (a pastry made from eggs, flour and milk), erwtensoep a pea soup and poffertijes, small crêpes to eat with powdered sugar, chocolate or advocaat (a thick Dutch egg-based liqueur). Consumption of coffee and beer is high, wine is not widespread.

Netherlands Traditions