A few days ago I found myself near the Peace Palace in The Hague. This was on 4 May, otherwise known as Nationale Dodenherdenking or National Remembrance of the Dead day. You have a few monuments to the war near the Peace Palace. One of them is The Hague Resistance and Liberation Memorial which commemorates those who lost their lives in The Netherlands during WWII. Here is the official website for the Memorial (in Dutch).
And on 5 May the Netherlands celebrates Liberation Day, which in comparison to the more somber Remembrance Day is a day for festivals and celebrating one’s freedom. A lot of cities hold festivals on 5 May.
Today is King’s Day in the Netherlands. At the very least, it is a nice day off! It celebrates the birthday of King Willem-Alexander, although most people use it as an excuse to head into town and enjoy a lot of good music and alcohol. (Seriously, walking into the local supermarket, the first thing on display was six-packs of beer. They know where their money is made!)
Dutch flags on display for the holiday with the Grote Kerk (“Big Church”) in the background.
You can also check out the King’s Day Google doodle. The doodle celebrates tompouces, a pastry which is normally pink. Unless it is King’s Day, and then it is bright orange.
There are two main activities on King’s Day: 1) The king and his family always visits one city each year. This year was Rotterdam. 2) A lot of cities have “free markets” (Vrijmarkten) which is basically a huge garage sale – one day a year everyone in the nation is out selling things. Or buying things. On that day people can clear out all of their junk and old items and sell them in specifically designated spots in each city.
Here is a live blog from NOS (the national news channel). It is in Dutch but at the very least you can check out the pictures to get a sense of how crowded it was/is!
As usual, there were a lot of April Fools jokes made yesterday in The Netherlands. Here are a few examples:
Unfortunately it is just an April Fool’s joke. Tourists are notorious for trampling tulips just to get the perfect selfie. In response to this The Tulip Barn in Hillegom created a “selfie garden” in 2021 to allow visitors to take photos in a specially created area, complete with Dutch props. That is pretty cool, actually.
The tweet below is in Dutch, but it basically says that elevator accidents caused by drunk passengers have increased by 24% since 2020. Therefore, the Lift Instituut in The Netherlands has banned elevator use by people who have had more than two glasses of alcohol (thereabouts).
And finally, if you’re an international living in The Netherlands with a bike, prepare to get a biking license…
I guess it is a good thing I don’t have a bike, right?
Marco and I made oliebollen a few days ago. It’s a donut-like snack that you fry in oil and then cover in powdered sugar.
Of course, purists would say that donuts took their inspiration from oliebollen, not the other way around.
I also purchased some apple beignets from the oliebollen stand at the Grote Markt yesterday. New Year’s Eve is the busiest time of the season for oliebollen stands; this particular one opens at 06:00 on New Year’s Eve.
Above: a look at some of the kruidnoten flavors they have on sale.
A close up look. Think of flavors like intense orange, disco dip, white chocolate, dark roasted coffee, etc. I bought a bag of the dark roasted coffee flavor. Yum! Of course, kruidnoten are a treat for Sinterklaas (5 December) so they aren’t being sold at the moment.
Bonfires are back on the beaches at Scheveningen and Duindorp from dutchnews.nl. This New Years Eve tradition was banned for two years after the 2018-2019 accident when the wind shifted and sparks rained down on the nearby neighborhoods. And then corona happened, which is a ban of a different sort. But the bonfires are not allowed to be bigger than 10x10x10 meters (33x33x33 feet). Which might sound like a lot, but the 2018-2019 bonfire was 48 meters tall (almost 160 feet).
Today marks 10 years in the Netherlands! Wow. I almost can’t believe it. Although maybe that sounds a bit too negative – I do love living here and don’t miss living in the States.
Here was my post at 5 years. I didn’t bake cookies this time for my coworkers like I did last year (delicious, soft, chewy lemon cookies. Yum.) Maybe next time. A lot of coworkers choose to work remotely and only come in once a week, so it can be hard to know when there are enough coworkers around to share in the sweets.
I have visited the Royal Christmas Fair a few times this year already though (just like 2017). Once with Marco right when it opened and once with coworkers. The fair runs through 22 December this year and sells a mix of crafts (like nativity scenes, candles, ornaments) and food (like sausages, raclette. crepes). Oh and also some very tasty mulled wine. Although we call it by its German name, glühwein.
Above: a look at some of the nativity scenes for sale at one of the stands.
In other news, here is the most random thing that happend today: Marco and I were flipping through the channels this afternoon and we came across an infomercial selling very sharp kitchen knives. Strangely enough the original presenters were speaking English, but it was dubbed in German and for good measure subtitled in Dutch. It was a bit hard to watch. Normally you would just get the original programming, English speech and all, with Dutch subtitles underneath. We don’t dub anything in this country.
De Passage is an outdoor, covered shopping area in the city centre. There are no doors, but if you want to get a bit warmer you can head to the middle of it where the cold outside air almost doesn’t reach. Almost…
Here is a look at the holiday lights on top of one of the entrances. In the far distance down the hall you can just see the Christmas tree sticking out. They lit the tree lights for the first time on 1 December. It is definitely starting to feel like the holidays now.
Bijenkorf is a high-end department store comparable to Macy’s in the US. Every year they hang up some gorgeous holiday lights and they decorate their store front windows for Sinterklaas (5 December holiday) and Christmas. The lights went up in early November this year, even before we left for New Year City. Here’s a look at a few of their Sinterklaas themed windows.
You can tell it is Sinterklaas because the child in the middle is holding the staff of Sinterklaas. What’s a Sinterklaas party without fashionable clothes and lots of gifts? Speaking of which, if you want to make sure kids in The Hague and Amsterdam area have gifts to open on 5 December, consider donating to Sintvoorieder1 (official website in Dutch). During their latest toy drive they received about 47,000 gifts for 22,500 children which is just awesome. The link is from omroepwest.nl in Dutch.
Megastores helemaal gesloopt voor nieuwe woontorens from omroepwest.nl (article in Dutch). Megastores is a shopping mall on the other side of The Hague’s Holland Spoor train station. However most of the stores sell furniture or home goods, so the number of shoppers has been dwindling over the years. The article talks about how the entire shopping mall will be demolished in phases starting in 2024, to be replaced by about 2,000 apartments in residential towers.
The Zeldzaam mooi markt will be at the Lange Voorhout in The Hague on Sunday, 27 November. The name translates to something like “Rare, beautiful market”. They will be selling retro, vintage and reuse items like jewelry, clothes, home goods, etc.