Holidays

Anyone up for some satay? (Or: Tasty Christmas gifts)

Roger gave Marco a recipe book for Christmas: Indostok (bol.com, in Dutch). The title combines two words, “indo” and “stok” (stok=stick). The book includes many, many different satay recipes from Vanja van der Leeden.

Another skillfully posed photo by Marco

Satay (or saté in Dutch) was one of the few Dutch meals we made in Chicago for relatives. We brought along spices to make the accompanying peanut sauce (pindasaus) and then cooked and skewered some chicken. We also brought along a small jar of acar (atjar in Dutch – I had to look up how to say it in English, even), which is a vegetable pickle dish.

For me, the sourer the atjar is, the better. Consider this: one of my favorite random side dishes is cucumber with white wine vinegar, a bit of lemon juice and hot sauce. My mouth is puckering just thinking about it…

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The Art of Star Wars: The Mandalorian (Or: Enjoying the Christmas gifts)

Marco received an awesome book for Christmas this year—The Art of Star Wars: The Mandalorian—from Roger.

Marco being Marco, he had to get the perfect photo. And what better way to do that than to use the reindeer and teddy bear he bought from Xenos as the “readers”?

If you look closely you’ll see some chocolate in the lower right. That is dark chocolate marzipan from Albert Heijn, a joke of sorts between Marco, Roger and I. A few years ago Roger “stole” some dark chocolate marzipan we had in our Christmas candy dish, so Marco bought some and wrapped it up as a Christmas gift that year for Roger so he wouldn’t have to “steal” ours. But Roger also bought some and wrapped it up as a gift for Marco, so there was lots of marzipan going around.

This year we each gifted one to another (three packs in total). The tradition lives on…

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Is it a dance party? (Or: Is it a demonstration?)

Keep in mind the last mayor of The Hague, Pauline Krikke, was forced to resign after the the damning report of the Scheveningen “fire rain” bonfires on New Year’s Eve 2018-19 and after corruption allegations into two city alderman (see this dutchnews.nl article in English).

This New Year’s Eve there was a demonstration in Duindorp. Duindorp and Scheveningen are right next to each other, each competing against the other to make the highest bonfire. That is until the 2018-19 accident when bonfires were banned. They were also banned on New Year’s 2019-20 because the safety permits couldn’t be obtained. Fast forward to this year when they were banned due to the corona measures.

On New Year’s Eve this year there was a demonstration in Duindorp, filled with hundreds of people dancing and singing in the afternoon:

Reports on Twitter suggested that this was not a demonstration at all but a party. The city investigated this claim (Gemeente Den Haag onderzoekt demonstratie met dansend publiek Duindorp – from nos.nl in Dutch), but the mayor denied this and said it was a demonstration.

Yesterday a report dropped on OmroepWest (a local Dutch news station) that the current mayor of The Hague, Jan van Zanen, not only knew that it was not a true demonstration but also that the city council paid €10,000 for festival lighting, with money “allocated for an ‘alternative programme’ to the regular New Year celebration”. Here is an article in English from DutchNews.nl:

Interesting. Though if it were true, it could be seen as attempt by the mayor and the city to prevent worse rioting and to distract the masses, as it were. Which in itself isn’t a bad thing, if we weren’t in the middle of a pandemic at the moment.

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Good start to the New Year (Or: Homemade oliebollen)

Happy New Year! Yesterday morning Marco and I made oliebollen (Wikipedia) to bring Roger’s. Plain oliebollen for me and oliebollen with raisins for Marco and Roger. Yummy!

Thanks to the fireworks ban in the Netherlands, New Year’s Eve was a bit quieter than normal, although there were still a a lot of fireworks right before midnight and for a half hour or so afterwards. Most likely people had an old stash lying around that they hadn’t used last year – or they bought fireworks illegally.

There were still some issues, of course. In nearby Rijswijk, someone set a camper on fire. The only problem? There were gas tanks inside. Several people catch fire after blowing up a caravan from nltimes.nl. (On the one hand, warning: you will see people on fire. On the other hand, no one turned up in the hospital and the victims were long gone by the time the police arrived, so it seems their injuries were minor. If you can call being on fire minor.)

Firework ban widely ignored, but police report fewer incidents during New Year festivities from dutchnews.nl.

However, the Dutch Health ministry did report two thirds less dust or particles in the air last night compared with last year so most people obeyed the ban on fireworks. See also this article from nos.nl in Dutch. Local hospitals were also thankful that the evening was relatively calm: Ziekenhuizen dankbaar voor rustige jaarwisseling: ‘Hele andere nacht’ (from omroepwest.nl in Dutch).

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But where did the fireworks go? (Or: Happy New Year!)

As mentioned earlier, fireworks are banned this year to try and keep the number of hospital visits down. And this is not without good reason: Dozens of hospitals struggling to provide urgent care (from nltimes.nl). Part of the problem is that more and more health workers are out sick during this wave.

Police and firefighters are prepared for “all scenarios” on New Year’s Eve, also from nltimes.nl. Unfortunately this means cancelling all scheduled leave for them to increase the the number of forces out on the streets. For the most part the number one goal is to protect medical workers, with a secondary goal being to enforce the corona measures.

But – The Hague is currently breaking records for the most fireworks turned in! Since you can’t purchase fireworks this year, and you aren’t allowed to legally store it anywhere, a lot of Dutch cities came up with the idea of a few days where citizens could safely turn in their fireworks – even the highly illegal kind – without fear of punishment. At the end of the second day, 600 kilo (1,322 pounds) had been turned in. Ruim 600 kilo vuurwerk ingeleverd bij inzamelactie in Den Haag (nos.nl, article in Dutch).

Above: fireworks from last year.

Random news: I read on indebuurt.nl that a new donut shop was closing before I even got a chance to try it: Deze zaken in Den Haag gaan niet meer open in het nieuwe jaar (article in Dutch). It’s on page 8 of the article. The name was Daddy Donuts Churros Cartel. Donuts and churros – what more could you ask for, really?

Finally, if you have no idea what to do today you can check out Goodbye 2020, a free online streaming event that will last from tomorrow afternoon through the night, with about 40 Dutch artists. Free online festival to entertain youth on New Year’s Eve, from nltimes.nl. The Dutch government donated 1 million euros to the cause with the hopes of keeping youth off the streets tomorrow night, and instead at home watching the various streams. We’ll see if it works. (However, I’m not entirely sure if you can access the streams from outside the Netherlands.)

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Christmas lights at the Grote Markt (Or: 2020 edition)

Take a look at the Christmas lights at the Grote Markt (denhaag.com in English). Grote Markt is usually a popular bar/club hangout with an active nightlife. Things are of course pretty quiet these days, although the restaurants are still open for takeout or delivery.

The church tower in the background is the Grote Kerk (Wikipedia).

I also took a different shot to try and avoid the trucks on the right side. The bonus of the second shot was that it showed off the Haagse Harry statue:

In other news – take a peek in the mayor of The Hague’s office, courtesy of indebuurt.nl, a news website. The article is in Dutch. Or take a look at the Coronawacht, a satirical version of the Rembrandt’s The Night Watch (Wikipedia). Note: the artist admitted that he wasn’t the most skilled, and it was a very quick job, so keep that in mind. The little details are good though – like Irma Sluis making the sign for “hamsteren” in the middle behind the Dutch prime minister, or the doctors rushing past, or the markers on the ground denoting 1 and a half meters distance, or the then minister of Medical Care collapsing during a corona debate back in March (bbc.com) and resigning a day later.

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Christmas trees made of bread (Or: Breakfast time)

On the second day of Christmas (December 26), Marco and I had a Christmas tree for breakfast:

A Christmas tree made of bread, that is! Marco found it at Albert Heijn, one of the local grocery stores. We ate it with the usual hagelslag (chocolate sprinkles) and speculoos paste.

In other news: you can legally turn in fireworks today and tomorrow in The Hague (omroepwest.nl, article in Dutch). Today 207 kilos (457 pounds) was turned in. You can turn in up to 25 kilos of fireworks, even fireworks that are usually in the ‘illegal category’, without being fined.

The reason the city is organizing this is because it is illegal to possess fireworks outside of the few days around the New Year’s Eve holiday (those are also the only days you can legally possess fireworks). This year The Hague said that setting off fireworks would be illegal to keep hospital visits low.

You don’t legally have a reason to have them in your house and you can’t legally set them off, so unless you want to illegally store them for a year, turning them in now is your best option.

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More Christmas trees (Or: A peek at De Haagsche Bluf)

A few days ago I wandered into the Haagsche Bluf (denhaag.com, English) to take a quick picture of their Christmas tree. The Haagsche Bluf is a tiny, outdoor high-end shopping area tucked away in The Hague’s city centre:

In other news, Omroep West (a local news site and channel) will be showing a short documentary later today about the New Year’s Eve riots that occurred in the 70s, 80s and 90s here in The Hague. The document will air tonight at 18:00 and will be available later (I assume) on this page.

Documentaire over kerstbomen rausen in Den Haag: ‘Alles ging op het vuur’ from omroepwest.nl. Documentary about stealing Christmas trees in The Hague: ‘Everything was thrown into the fire’. Rausen is slang in The Hague’s dialect for stealing.

The Hague was well known for burning Christmas trees, cars, couches, chairs, bikes, you name it. At the height of the mania Christmas trees and other flammable materials were stolen from rival groups, occasionally leading to violent injuries and death. The damage cost the city millions of guldens every year (guldens was the Dutch currency before the euro was adopted). In the end the city started organizing their own parties so that people would come to the ‘official’ parties and cause less damage on their own.

The bonfires which happened on the beaches of Scheveningen and Duindorp were the result of the city attempting to control the riots. This worked out okay until two years ago when the bonfires were out of control and spawned fire tornados (!, video from bbc.com). Last year permits were not given to hold the bonfires again due to lingering safety issues and this year the bonfires were cancelled due to corona measures.

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Guardians of the Christmas tree (Or: A reindeer and a bear)

Here is our Christmas tree this year, the presents guarded by a reindeer and a bear:

Merry (second day of) Christmas, everyone!

(The stuffed bear and the stuffed reindeer were bought at Xenos.)

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Merry Christmas (Or: Stocking stuffers)

Merry Christmas, everyone! After a few videochats with family we are currently baking a pumpkin pie. The house smells really nice right now, as you might expect…

Here is my first Christmas gift from Marco – a stocking stuffer! Cute little Christmas themed socks, perfect for keeping my feet warm during the day. This has become more important since we started working from home.

And here is a look at the back of the stocks (the glitter part says Merry Christmas):

I wonder if I will start leaving glitter footprints with every step?

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