Winter fever Dutch style and time off



Winter seems to be here to stay this year in the Netherlands, which means that canals and ponds stay frozen with or without the presence of snow, birds need to be fed bread so I keep hearing from bird lovers, and the country has skating fever. A business colleague proudly told everyone on a mailing list that she had tailored her work schedule around skating until it lasts. It’s safe to assume that employees are calling in sick as well and are on some frozen pond somewhere getting it out of their system.

As for myself, I just drove through Amstelveen and Oude Kerk aan de Amstel and saw tons of kids skating, like some modern Dutch winter postcard and spotted a place to sharpen my figure skates, should I join the party this weekend.

Tomorrow, the entire Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs gets a half day off to go skating. I asked the approachable and twittering Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, Maxime Verhagen on Twitter if he plans on going skating, but he keeps telling us about meetings in Paleis Noordeinde where the Queen works.

The not so nice side to this story is that school children in the South of the country where the temperatures are lower and the ice is safer cannot just take time off to go skating because then the schools cannot meet their obligatory 1,040 hours of teaching lessons. What about the kids in the North of the country I just saw?

However, if the Elfstedentocht (The Eleven-cities Tour) is a reality this year, then they will be given time off to go and watch. It only happens every ten year or so and if not, they’ll all call in sick too I bet.

And then half the country will be unavailable, out of the office, sick, and just plain busy.

Last year we talked about a man who brought a piece of his toe to his Elfstedentocht reunion.

(Link:, Photo: tvglorie)


  1. Neil says:

    Skating in Holland by Andreas Schelfhout

    We’re getting more precipitation in this early part of the winter in the northeast US but as cold as it has been at times, it seems that temperature moderate when the storms come. Today we have lots of rain coming on top of sleet that fell last night. Shoveling one’s walk includes shoveling ice slurry. I think the rain, when it freezes on the lakes will leave a nice surface to skate. No one here will skip school to skate.

  2. Eric says:

    I think everyone is slowly getting caught by this national ice skating fever. I just posted a piece the other week about how the first bit of ice got hyped. Little did I know winter was here to stay. Enjoy it while it lasts everyone, I sure will!


  3. […] I still talk about the skating we did in early January along with this classic Dutch skating story: Winter fever Dutch style and time off. […]

  4. […] Winter fever Dutch style and time off […]

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