Week 7: Koningsdag and Pinderkaas

1) Having experienced my first Kings Day a.k.a. Koningsdag in Amsterdam, I can confirm: it is possibly the most epic holiday celebration I have ever been to. This past Friday, what seemed like every person in the Netherlands dressed in orange and descended upon the city for a massive celebration. Not only is it celebrated on Friday, but Thursday night was a city-wide block party as well, with every block filled with bands, beers, & people. I can't believe no one ever told me to come to Amsterdam for Kings Day before, as it's incredible - I'M HOSTING NEXT YEAR, so book your tickets now!

2) Get this: the Dutch usher in the beginning of the spring season with Rokjesdag, a Dutch term which literally means "skirt day," aka the first sunny day of the year when women start wearing short skirts again. If I were to guess, rokjesdag was probably sometime last week when we had our first sunny spell 🙂 Classic!

3) When people think of Holland/Netherlands, they commonly think of a few things: Heineken, canals, and windmills. But there are actually only 8 windmills in all of Amsterdam, as most of them have been dismantled or destroyed. There are still ~ 1,000 historic windmills spread about elsewhere throughout the Netherlands.

4) I recently saw a humorous 5 commandments of biking in the Netherlands, which I found accurate, so I'll share: 1) Thou shalt only cycle on the right side of the road, 2) Thou shalt not cycle on sidewalks- only on bike paths, 3) Thou shalt ALWAYS lock your bike when unattended. Preferably to something. 4) Thou shalt ding your bell when passing people, and move to the side when bells ding for thee, 5) Thou shalt ignore Dutch people shouting about how much you suck balls at cycling.

5) Many places in the U.S. were actually named after Dutch cities: Flushing, Brooklyn, Harlem, Bloomingdale, and many others! https://en.wikipedia.org/…/List_of_place_names_of_Dutch_ori…

6) I continue to be shocked at how loose the Dutch are about certain things: in a city where everyone ride bikes and are exposed to numerous opportunities to get injured, not a single person wears a helmet while cycling. On Kings Day? Someone set up a swing off of a canal bridge, and drunk people climbed to swing out over the canal all day long - and noone did a thing to stop this. These are just a couple examples of things that would never, ever fly in the US or the UK.

On the helmet front, many argue that helmets are simply not necessary in Amsterdam as the Dutch have created an intrinsically safe road environment. There are bike lanes EVERYWHERE here (literally, we did a 40km ride from Leiden to see all of the tulips this weekend and were on a dedicated bike lane nearly as wide as the road the entire time - if only it were like that everywhere!)

7) Amsterdam has been making a concerted effort to plant more tulips around the city itself. The motto of the Amsterdam Tulip Festival the last couple of years has been "a tulip for every Amsterdammer". Last count, they had planted around 650,000 which means they are getting close (current population hovers around 850,000).

8 ) You know how when you spill a secret, you "let the cat out of the bag?" Here, the expression is 'Nu komt de aap uit de mouw' or "the monkey comes out of the sleeve." The supposed backstory: in the past, street artists would often perform tricks by hiding a monkey in their coats. At the end of the performance the monkey would “come out of the sleeve” and reveal the trick!

9) Pindakaas = peanut butter. But why it's weird is: pinda means peanut, and kaas actually means cheese. So really, this translates to: peanut cheese. The reason? The word ‘piendakass’ appeared in the Surinamese dictionary in the mid 1800's and referred to a large block of crushed peanuts that locals sliced in a similar way to that of a block of cheese and ate on bread. Peanut butter, as you and I know it, was not introduced until 1948. However, it was not possible to market it under the name of ‘pindaboter’ due to the ‘Butterlaw’, which stipulated that only butter could call itself butter. So there you have it: why, to this day, Dutch peanut butter is really called peanut CHEESE!!

10) The Dutch have a way with insults; so much so, that there is even an entire Wikipedia page dedicated to them. I'll leave those right here for you, but my favorite is to call someone a pannenkoek, an idiot, or more literally: a pancake. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dutch_profanity

koningsdag amsterdam
leiden amsterdam bicycle