On May 4th, the Dutch hold the Remembrance of the Dead for the people who have fought and died during World War II, and wars in general. As a little girl I was taught respect for this day, rightfully so. Born to parents who lived through the war, and with a grandfather who served 20+ years in the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army and who had been a prisoner of war, there was no talking, playing or doing anything during the 2 minutes of silence we have at 8pm.
Now, as an adult, May 4 is even more emotionally charged for me. It’s also the day my mother died, two years ago now.
So, let’s quickly move on to May 5, Liberation Day, the day that marks the end of the occupation by Nazi Germany. A day to celebrate! Since 1990 this day has been declared a national holiday, one that is commemorated every 5 years. 2010 is one of those years, so I took my camera down-town with me.
This, to me, is the real Gouda. Old, small and characteristic houses with windmills in the back yard.
Not all our cars are small, mind you. We have SUV’s! Just no place to park ‘em.
Walking down our main shopping street. Do you see what I see?
Now there’s a sight for sore eyes! What can I say? I’m a McDonald’s gal and not afraid to admit it. I’d sell my soul for a Big Mac, it’s true.
This one’s for all the Dutchies living abroad. Hema worst, anyone?
The main square is where it all happens. Though at this point we still had no idea what it would be. Check out these crowned lanterns. Is that cute or what?
I loved seeing all those flags hanging from our town hall.
It looked so cheerful and impressive at the same time. The flags are an expression of the many nationalities that live in our city.
The fire of liberation. Starting in Wageningen as the symbolic center of the Dutch liberation, in the night of 4 to 5 May the liberation fire is lit and (in relay form) brought to all corners of the Netherlands.
Where would we be without our barrel organs?
The remembrance plaque on the side of our town hall.
And the flowers from the wreath-laying ceremony on the 4th.
My son quickly spotted the cow/bull. Think of it as the bovine version of a bouncy castle.
And within exactly 2.3 seconds he’d made a new best friend for life.
Which gave me a chance to cruise the place to see what else was going on. It appeared to be a Montmartre—a market for old and antique stuff.
You can buy paintings of someone’s mom there. And lots of old and dusty books.
And old pottery. I fell in love with those 4 little red herb jars (see arrow) and asked the salesman how much they’d cost. He said E250. I grinned, totally convinced he was pulling my leg. He wasn’t. I instantly fell out of love with them.
And you get to see women with really red hair. I wish I’d have the guts to paint my hair like that. But I don’t. I’m kinda beige, really.
Want! Covet! I waved at the dude who drove off on it. Just kidding. But wouldn’t it be awesome if a guy actually did drive off on it?
There were people dancing in the streets.
I simply couldn’t keep my eyes off of this couple. See what I mean?
Four little red riding hoods polishing off all of gramma’s cookies.
Not sure what kind of sport this was, but it seemed to be something like Martial Arts Meets Dance. Looked really great. Young and old, they all performed.
This dude had moves!! And cute Calvin Klein boxers. Wait. Did I just say that?
Check him out. The last time I could do this was…
… oh, never. I’d tear ligaments, tendons and all kinds of other fun stuff.
From the looks of it his buddies couldn’t either. But they sure had a good time.
Everybody looked so cheerful. Doesn’t it amaze you how everyone has its own distinctive style of dress?
Better close up of the liberation fire.
I just love this building. I really, really do.
Just thought I’d sneak in a photo of the Toko I buy my curry masala in bulk. It’s small but filled to the brim with all kinds of really tasty things.
And Bram Ladage. Oh, my darling Bram, where would I be without you? What can I say? I’m a French fries junkie and Bram is my house dealer. Bram Ladage is one of our ‘famous’ French fries places. I refrained from getting my weekly ‘Patatje Oorlog” (War fries—fries topped with mayonnaise and satay sauce), it just didn’t seem appropriate.
I know Jamie Oliver is on a healthy eating crusade for America, but check out how they’re luring our kids: by placing gigantic bags of fake fries and mayonnaise at their entrance. Save us, Jamie!
Want! Covet! Have you noticed my somewhat unhealthy love for these kinds of bikes? I’m bound to buy one… some day.
Heineken should be celebrated. It’s the only right thing to do. I had no idea how different Heineken tastes in the US compared to here. Really gross. Sorry you guys are stuck with watery beer.
When your feet start to get tired, you head over to the Zeugestraat. Where these pillows are waiting patiently for you to plant your butt. Gotta love Gouda.
All kidding aside. Back to what this day is all about.
Where they found the courage, the determination and the will to sacrifice will probably always be a mystery to me. Most likely their disgust for the Nazi’s and the cruel German occupation. It makes me humble and silent. They gave their lives so we could be free. We owe them eternal gratitude.