Less than two weeks ago, the Netherlands was still delirious with the fever surrounding the World Cup. The Dutch unexpectedly achieved third place. Dutch nationalism, usually muted, was briefly turned into mandatory enthusiasm, as the Dutch team racked up victories over Spain, Australia, Chile, Costa Rica, Mexico and, finally, Brazil. On Twitter, a soccer commentator who ventured a few critical remarks about the Dutch team received comments to the effect that he should be thrown out of a plane.
Then, on Thursday, while en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down in eastern Ukraine. Of the 298 passengers and crew members who were killed, 193 were Dutch nationals, among them a famous AIDS researcher, Joep Lange, and a senator and legal scholar, Willem Witteveen.… Seguir leyendo »
When I was growing up in Amsterdam in the 1970s, the phenomenon of Santa Claus was relatively unknown. Christmas was celebrated without Santa and mostly without gifts. St. Nicholas — Sinterklaas in Dutch — was the man with the presents.
If one had the good fortune to be Jewish, one received presents not only on Dec. 5, the eve of Sinterklaas’s name day, but also at Hanukkah. Only in recent years has Santa Claus, who comes on Dec. 25, made his rise to stardom in Holland, and today a Dutch child — or a Dutch adult for that matter — no longer has to be Jewish to cash in twice in December.… Seguir leyendo »
On April 30, 1980, Queen Juliana of the Netherlands was succeeded by her daughter Beatrix. That day was marked by violent rioting in Amsterdam. Under the motto “Geen woning, geen kroning” (No roof over our heads, no crown on yours), squatters and anarchists railed against the new queen’s coronation and the country’s housing crisis.
I was 9, and I sat with my mother watching it all on TV. The smoke bombs and riot police made more of an impression on me than the coronation itself. My father was as unimpressed with the squatters as he was with the queen, and spent the day immersed in his stamp collection.… Seguir leyendo »