“The Dutch are a very practical people” – Famke Janssen
Okay, it’s the first Sunday of the month, meaning it’s time for a special summary! With all that travelling to Dublin and soon to Canada, I thought it would be fun to list some silly facts about my home country. More specifically, here is a mixture of seven un-truths and common mistakes about the Netherlands:
- The Netherlands contains more cities and other places than just Amsterdam. Whenever I am abroad and I tell someone I am from The Netherlands, their first reaction is always: “Ah, yes! From Amsterdam!”
It’s nice to know you’ve learned the name of my capital city. And I know my country isn’t that big, but really… We don’t all cluster together in that one big place and leave the rest of the country unpopulated. In fact, I live quite far away from Amsterdam and I think I’ve only ever been there about four or five times in my life. That’s once every six years. If you are still not convinced we have more than Amsterdam alone, here’s some visual proof:
Please note that this map only lists the biggest cities of The Netherlands. There’s even more places to go to!
- Tulips are originally Turkish. Yes, that’s quite a shocker, isn’t it? The national flower of The Netherlands, our floral pride, that beautiful colourful ornament we send bucketfuls of to the Pope every year, is not Dutch. Go figure.
Apparently, in 1612 Dutch salesmen brought the flower back with them from a trip to Turkey, and the tulip happened to grow really well in our soil! Whoever first shouted it was a typical Dutch flower was all wrong, but made it into a global lie anyway. Kudos to them! But now you know the truth…
- We are not all drunks, drug addicts, and/or prostitutes. I hope by now you’ve overcome the initial shock of learning Amsterdam is not a synonym for The Netherlands (neither is Holland, by the way. But I use it as a synonym so I won’t mind if you do, too). If you didn’t, scroll back up and take another look at that map. If you did, here’s another shocker: not all Dutch people are sex workers or addicts! I know, right!?
Again, when abroad, people automatically assume all Dutchies are really easy to get into bed, always carry weed/pott with them, and drink tons of Heineken.
Well, we don’t. In fact, Heineken does better in other countries than in its own. I’ve never had a joint in my life, let alone anything more intense than that, and I don’t carry a red light with me in my pockets.
I have a feeling I am breaking a lot of bubbles here, but let’s carry on!
- We did not invent the windmill. Ha ha ha! Bet you didn’t know that, either! My country is world famous for a few things, such as tulips and weed. And mills, like these:
But here’s the kicker: the origin of these type of mills lies not in The Netherlands, but in China and Persia! Again, travelling salesmen took the idea of the windmills and constructed their own versions of them after coming home. As you might know, 26% of our country lies below sea level and the Dutch have a rich history of battling water (that is actually true). The original “stolen” mills were used to pump away surplus water. Later on they were rebuild to grind grain and such.
- We have a strange sense of humour not everyone gets. I have a feeling Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory isn’t the only one in need of a sarcasm-sign, as my jokes are often mistaken for seriousness by non-Dutchies. Half of the time, though, I am not serious at all and I constantly have to explain myself to others. It’s not like I am really going to harm someone or murder someone’s cat, I just say I will. Complaining is in my nature, that’s also a real Dutch thing. But we don’t complain because we are unhappy, we complain because we have nothing better to do.
So now you know I am not always serious, maybe you should re-read this post. If you’ve recovered from my crazy sense of humour, you may well continue:
- Our “typically Dutch” “kroket” was made by a Frenchman. The Dutch love deep-fried snacks. At least, we used to, but nowadays an everyone-must-eat-healthily-always-ever-and-each-day-onward-from-now-movement is lobbying to get rid of anything tasty. They’ll never succeed, we are too stubborn a people to ever listen to each other.
But anyway, the kroket. It’s a deep fried meat snack which tastes absolutely fantastic with a dash of mustard, and even more so when splattered onto a slice of bread. We always tell everyone it’s unique for our country and cannot be found anywhere outside of it, but it wasn’t until a Dutch baker named Kwekkeboom first encountered one in a store in France in 1909 that we produced one. Kwekkeboom took the idea with him and (pun!) voilà! The “Dutch kroket” was born! I have to admit, though, that the Kwekkeboom Kroket IS one of the best!
- Last but not least: We are not the only ones who have wooden shoes. Also, we don’t all walk around in them, all day, every day. I hope this one won’t cause you any (further) harm, but it’s true: not all Dutch people walk around in clogs. My eldest sister owns a pair, but more for fun. She wore them once, when she passed her first year in college and got a certificate for that (which was a LOT of fun, because she’s a dentist so the whole room was filled with snobs and then my sister came in wearing her big, wooden, yellow clogs :’) Totally awesome!).
My mother’s friend is married to a Spaniard and he once walked a special four day marsh on his Spanish wooden clogs. So there you have it: we’re not original in our footwear, either!
Ah, that was fun! :) I hope you enjoyed reading this post as much as I had fun writing it!
Let’s end this post with some traditional Dutch organ music (spoiler alert! The “draaiorgel” also wasn’t created by Dutch hands, for the French, Germans and Belgians already used these musical instruments during the 19th century before we did).
Now, I know this type of music isn’t pleasing to most, but to me it’s very special. My late grandmother loved it so much, that now whenever I see such an organ or hear its music, I instantly think of her and it makes me happy :)
So here’s to my grandmother! Who WAS 100% Dutch! ;)