Three years into the switch from Queen Beatrix to King Willem-Alexander and from 30 April to 27 April (26 April if it’s a Sunday), tourists are apparently still booking holidays for King’s Day three days too late based on crappy intel, and booking agencies aren’t exactly warning them. Why would tourists have any reason to think a national holiday has moved back three days?
I was talking to my best friend in Québec on the phone recently, telling her about how royally excited I get about the flea market that is the Netherlands on King’s Day. I explained the tourists mishaps that keep happening and she said “what kind of country changes the day of a national holiday?” A country that celebrates it on the birthday of their King or Queen, rather than a set date. Canada Day is celebrated on July 1 for the signing of the British North American act in 1867, so the only moving going on on that date is the Province of Québec (follow the link to get the joke, you’ll thank me).
As luck will have it, Wim-Lex just happens to have his birthday close to 30 April, on 27 April, so that was an easy move. However, the date did not move for Queen Beatrix because her birthday is in January, so we’re inconsistently consistent. According to Wikipedia, on Princess Wilhelmina’s accession to the throne in November 1890 the holiday became ‘Koninginnedag’ (‘Queen’s Day’), first celebrated on 31 August 1891. In September 1948, Wilhelmina’s daughter Juliana ascended to the throne and the holiday was moved to Queen Juliana’s birthday, 30 April. The holiday was celebrated on this date from 1949 until 2013.
Moving the holiday wasn’t new, but it hadn’t been moved in a while and moves when it’s easier, a bit like in the Province of Québec.
Tags: Canada, King's Day, moving, Québec, Queen's Day, tourism
Having a glass of wine at the hair salon and at some clothing shops in Amsterdam started as an experiment in January 2016. Rotterdam started in February and called it ‘Project Blending 010’ (why in English, don’t know – 010 is the area code for Rotterdam) and other places in the country called it ‘blurring’ (why in English, still don’t know) because the law says serving alcohol without a liquor license is illegal. So yes, the whole thing was illegal but tolerated – sound familiar?
The Association of Dutch Municipalities (VNG) kicked off the experiment, but the Union of Liquor Store Owners (Slijtersunie) recently decided they were done being tolerant and decided to officially report the VNG to the authorities for breaking the law. The VNG is ‘surprised’ because talking it out is usually the Dutch way, but you can imagine there’s a lot more selling of alcohol at salons and shops than there is selling non-alcohol related products at the wine store. The experiment let shops serve and sell alcohol, while establishments that usually sell alcohol could sell shop products.
A lot of us were already having a drink with the lovely people who patiently cut our hair before any of this became a thing. And yes, it would probably help to make any kind of shopping more enjoyable. Maybe it’s time to change the law instead of forcing one group of Dutch businesses to have their turf invaded by another.
Or they could have a drink and talk it out till the cows come home Dutch style, who knows.
(Links: www.binnenlandsbestuur.nl, www.z24.nl, www.telegraaf.nl, Photo of Hair salon by Travel Salem, some rights reserved)
Tags: alcohol, Amsterdam, hair salon, law, wine
In a few days Professor Renske Keizer of the University of Amsterdam, 32, will become the world’s first and only ‘Professor of Fatherhood’. Mother of three children herself, she researches the effect fathers have on children in different family configurations and opposes the ‘glorification’ of motherhood in the Netherlands, which constantly downplays the role of fathers in Dutch families regardless of their contribution.
Keizer explains that fathers of low income families play a lesser role than those of high income families and that a lack of affordable childcare, lack of paid and unpaid paternity leave and many other 1950s relics skew the balance between mothers and fathers, with fathers getting the short end of the stick. While Dutch fathers have voiced a desire to want to work part-time like most mothers do but cannot because they are expected to work full time and Dutch working mothers making less than working fathers, it’s tough to foster any change without taking a hard financial hit.
Dutch women entered the job market in the 1970s, decades later than their western counterparts, and the obstacles facing them today stem from the ingrained idea that women don’t need to work to support their families or develop themselves. “Men work to take care of their family, that’s their role. Many women see work as something that conflicts with what they do at home, clean and take care of the children. That’s Dutch culture. You’re a bad mother if you bring your children to daycare more than three times a week, but not a bad father. Society needs to make a change.”
Keize is attempting to see if being a father contributes to raising children in a unique way, but warns that maybe it does not. She explains that generally fathers speak to their children more like adults, while mothers tend to speak to their children more on their level in part because mothers tend to know their children’s capabilities better. However, fathers play a major role in increasing children’s vocabulary. The same goes with reading bedtime stories, something Keizer admits high income families do way more than low income ones: a mother reads a story as it is in the book, while dad makes stuff up as he goes along, triggering children’s creative thinking.
Keizer is also researching LBGTI parents and is very aware of the differences between white Dutch folks and other ethnic groups, hoping that she can attract more diversity to her study.
(Link: www.parool.nl, Photo by Eelke Dekker, some rights reserved)
Tags: children, fatherhood, University of Amsterdam
Noord-Brabant, one of the Dutch provinces that unwillingly served as a doormat for invading troops during WWII, now has its very own Anne Frank themed escape room advertised with “Hide before the Germans find you!”.
Located in an old WWII bunker, ‘Het Achterhuis’ (‘the shed’ or ‘back room’ and also the original Dutch title of ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’) is the theme of this espace room, and its 19-year-old owner Thijs Verberne swears it has an educational purpose. The Valkenswaard escape room lets you ‘walk in Anne Frank’s shoes’ and fuelled by fear of being sent to the camps you need to find a way to get out of it that I bet doesn’t involve writing in your diary.
On Facebook there’s people totally into it and there’s a lot of disgusted folks as well. The espace room apparently looks like the Anne Frank’s house, the original of which is about 87 kilometres away in Amsterdam, although there are others around the country.
The city of Valkenswaard, which was always planning to do something with the bunker, will make sure the escape room is being run properly, although this sounds like something you would say to the media. The Anne Frank Foundation has not yet made any statements about the escape room.
UPDATE: The Anne Frank Foundation is not amused in the slightest.
Tags: Anne Frank, Eindhoven, espace room, Germans, Noord-Brabant
An e-mail written by the team leader of the district council of Nieuw-West in Amsterdam has told women they cannot wear ‘skirts/dresses above the knee’ and ‘knee-high boots’ if they work at the council office counter, where citizens come and get municipal permits and documents. By extension, if this were to be applied, they might have to fear for their jobs. And a happy belated International Women’s Day to you, too.
Assuming the team leader is a man, although their identity is currently being investigated, he has no power to tell women or anyone else what to wear, which clearly goes against the regulations of the city of Amsterdam as a whole. Questions are being asked by local politicians we know personally about these ‘absurd’ rules that target women. The assumption being made is that Nieuw-West, a district with a large Muslim population, is trying to spare them the view of decadent Western women as spring approaches, but nobody asked their opinion. Assumption number three is that the team leader saw a short skirt with knee-high boots that ‘bothered’ him, to use 1920s parlance, and so he decided to attack all women and offend a lot of men in the process.
Why fill in an entire group’s opinion without asking them? Not a single letter of complaint can be found at the offices, either. Sadly, Nieuw-West is the butt of many jokes, despite having a vibrantly diverse community. If it had more bars and wasn’t so far from the city centre, it could be my kind of ‘hood. It’s cheaper that most places, has big green parks, world-class street art, and food markets that makes you feel like you’re not in Amsterdam. But it takes one absurd e-mail to give the Dutch Internet a reason to trash Nieuw-West and attack its Muslim community.
Maybe this team leader needs to take a course on how to deal with his 1950s view on women in the workplace and not try and change the world around him to suit his backwards views.
UPDATE: The team leader was actually a woman who saw a colleague wearing a skirt she found too short, but instead of communicating with her one on one like a normal person, she felt an email that would cause an unnecessary stir was the way to go.
(Link: www.nu.nl, Photo of wilted tulip by Graham Keen, some rights reserved)
Tags: Amsterdam, Muslims, Nieuw-West, women
Testing waste water for drugs has again put Amsterdam at the top of the list of European drug capitals: it scored top marks for MDMA, the main ingredient of XTC, and cannabis. While London nabbed first place for cocaine with 737,3 milligrams per 1000 residents per day, Amsterdam is not far behind with 716,4 milligrams per 1000 residents per day. Amsterdam usually makes this list no matter what’s in the water, and that also seems to go for Utrecht and Eindhoven.
Number two for cannabis is Barcelona with 165,7 milligrams per 1000 residents per day, but apparently it doesn’t even come close to Amsterdam that has 469,4 milligrams per 1000 residents per day. The top 5 in cannabis also includes Utrecht and Eindhoven respectively fourth and fifth, with Antwerp in third place.
Scandinavian cities are still more into speed, but the top city in Europe for speed is Antwerp. In the Netherlands, Amsterdam is the speed capital, while Eindhoven is second in Europe after Antwerp.
(Link: www.binnenlandsbestuur.nl, nos.nl, Photo: DEA)
Tags: Amsterdam, cannabis, drugs, Eindhoven, Utrecht, water
Dutch stage director Marc Krone wrote a letter to his probably well-to-do Amsterdam neighbours to get them to think about helping Syrian families and it reads like the pitch of a television documentary. Krone breaks down facts about the numbers of refugees in all of Europe then asks would happen if every street in the Netherlands housed refugees.
Imagine: 30 people on [street 1] and on [street 2] put 50 euro a month for one year in a bank account – that’s 1500 euro. We find a place to live for 1500 euro in the neighbourhood and we rent it. We invite a Syrian family to live here. We help them learn Dutch, find work, and invite them at least twice over for a meal. By that time they’ve eaten 60 times with Dutch people, that’s eating out once a week and meeting people for them.
Wouldn’t you see this as a heavenly gift if you were on the run?
– 30 people who believe in doing something
– A home [ed. flat]
– Good will
Krone thought up an idea that’s not bad and could also work as a documentary. I very much doubt they could find a flat in his neighbourhood, but they could find one elsewhere in smaller cities for sure. And there’s jokes to be made about the food part, from scaring the refugees off to feeding them food they may not want to eat, but that’s easily fixed. As well, helping a family may appeal more to certain segments of the population that seem to focus too much on the single refugee men to feed their negative commentary.
Regardless, Krone makes the refugee problem easier to understand on a local level, something that is tough to do by only looking at pictures of hordes of people and barbed wire fences in the media.
(Link: www.geenstijl.nl, Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Takeaway, some rights reserved)
Tags: refugees, Syrians
Berlin has its ‘Ampelmann’ and ‘Ampelfrau’, Haarlem and other Dutch cities have ‘Sofie’, and now Utrecht has gay couples depicted on their pedestrian crossing signs in rainbow colours.
The city of Utrecht wants to show that gay men and women, as well as bisexual and transgender people are welcome in the city. Here’s the bright red gay one and the green lesbian one. Utrecht also has a rainbow colored pedestrian crossing.
Newspaper Metro mentioned that designing the signs cost 1200 euro, which led to online comments ranging from ‘bureaucrats are wasting our money’ and ‘where’s the sign with a straight couple’ to ‘gays and lesbians need to be treated like everyone else, signs won’t change that’. Knowing that Utrecht made the news in 2010 when a gay couple was harassed so much they were forced to move house makes one wonder if pedestrian crossing signs are really the way to go.
(Links: www.rtvutrecht.nl, www.libelle.nl, Photo of Gay flag by sigmaration, some rights reserved)
Tags: gays, Haarlem, lesbians, Utrecht
The battle to outlaw poker has been raging in the Netherlands for at least a decade, and the main issue was that the courts considered poker a game of skill and not a game of chance.
A court in Amsterdam recently ruled that regardless of the skill of the players, there is still an element of luck, therefore it is now considered a game of chance, which means anyone who wants to organise poker games needs a permit.
In 1998 the Attorney General had ruled that poker was a game of chance, giving as an example that playing several tables at once online, ‘multi-tabling’, is much more about strategy and relies a lot less on chance. This means that the lower court rulings of 2010 and 2014 that had taken the ‘game of skill’ side of things have now been overturned.
The case that went before the Amsterdam court was about Texas Hold’em poker games going on in a café in Bussum, North Holland where a permit wasn’t necessary because they didn’t need one for a game of skill. Now that the court has decided after 10 years that poker is a game of chance, both tournament organisers have been given a suspended fine of 1250 euro each and the bar owner 500 euro. The court went for suspended fines because the case took a long time to sort out.
The court found a way to choose the version of poker that profits the state monopoly of Holland Casino. I disagree that poker is a game of chance because without skill you’re just a donkey throwing your money away.
Tags: Bussum, poker
I’ve been working with French Europeans lately and not 15 minutes goes by before someone points out my ‘charming’ French Canadian accent. The same group of people also work with North Africans and Dutch people who speak French but don’t point out their accents for fear of sounding either like racists toward non-Caucasians or insulting the white Dutch managers. It’s OK for a card-carrying French person to tell me as a white person from an ex colony that I have an accent, but they wouldn’t dare tell a black person from Senegal the same thing.
I explained this later down the pub to a French-speaking Dutch person who claims she doesn’t judge people by their accent right after telling me I had one. I asked her if she tells Dutch people who obviously have an ethnic background that they have an accent in Dutch and she says she wouldn’t do that, but didn’t tell me why. Someone then tried to explain that it’s because a ‘decent’ Dutch accent makes you accepted by the white Dutch majority, and recent research shows that a heavy ‘ethnic’ accent puts you at the bottom rung of the ladder where you’ll find the Dutch-Moroccans and their accent.
The Moroccan accent is said to have no prestige whatsoever and is seen as negative on all fronts by the predominantly white students interviewed in a recent survey, even though other ethnic groups and the native Dutch use words and pronunciations from this ethnolect. Researcher Stefan Grondelaers, who has a Flemish accent, says that Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb and comedian Najib Amhali, both Dutch-Moroccans, have had to “limit their Moroccan accent to a minimum to get ahead”.
Researcher at the Radboud University in Nijmegen and linked to scientific research into Dutch regional accents, Grondelaers explains that we use stereotypes to avoid collecting information about others that we don’t intend to use, and this is part of our evolutionary process. He goes on to explain that when people judge each other’s accents based solely on what they hear, they make snap judgements.
A Dutch television program (kicks in at 25:10, in Dutch) that discusses the discrimination Dutch people with regional accents face would have been handy in the pub yesterday. A part of the video has two women in booths that cannot see each other. A younger woman with an accent from Drenthe reads the news to an older woman from the Randstad area, the ‘prestige accent of the country’. The older woman, knowingly enjoying her ‘standard’ accent, says the younger woman sounds like a farmer with a bad perm, big glasses, bad clothing, and whole bunch of other stereotypes that she couldn’t possibly know. Grondelaers explains that the woman with the Randstad accent can look down on others because all other accents are less prestigious than hers.
Another part of the video shows a Dutch-Morrocan man trying to get a test drive for a car who is treated very differently on the phone than a white Dutch speaker. It’s so bad that the person on the other end does nothing to keep the conversation going. The Dutchman gets everything he wants and actual conversation. Grondelaers basically states that people are simply “racist beasts that walk upright.”
(Link: www.kennislink.nl, Photo of Djellabas by Roel Wijnants, some rights reserved)
Tags: accents, discrimination, Drenthe, Dutch language, ethnicity, French language, language