Religion in Unexpected Places

Oud Kath Kerk
For better or for worse, a lot of people think of prostitution and drugs when they think of the Netherlands. Or they think about the more positive fact that the Netherlands was the first country to recognize gay marriage. What they probably don’t think about is a Dutch Bible Belt, yet it does exist. In a nation so liberal in so many ways, there are still (very small) pockets of religious enthusiasts, to put a polite spin on it.

A few weeks ago, before the World Cup final — which took place on a Sunday — some of the more fanatical religious leaders called for their flocks to avoid this “sinful” match, because they objected to television being watched on Sundays. The ire was raised when three cafés dared to show the match in the village of Urk, one of the notches in the Dutch Bible Belt. The horror! One wonders how much hypocrisy was being practiced that day in the privacy of the homes of some of the faithful. On the other hand, those who didn’t watch at least avoided the pain of the outcome of the match.

The Christian Right are also in the government, making up various political parties, including the CU (Christenunie). The Christian-controlled lower house of the Dutch government seems to have pushed through an interesting bit of legislation recently. They’ve decided to grant immediate asylum to any Iranian Muslim refugee … who converts to Christianity. It’s only for those who convert to Christianity, though. Any other religion — or those who declare themselves atheist — are out of luck and will have to go through the normal channels to try to obtain asylum. Ironically, it’s thought that those who convert to Christianity will face a much more dangerous situation if they were to go back to Iran. I’m not sure why other religions (or lack thereof) would be any less risky. I’m also not sure why it’s only Iranian refugees.

I’m an atheist from the Bible Belt in the United States. That’s pretty risky living! Surely, I should qualify for some sort of special asylum. ;)

Foto Vrijdag 2.28

The End
World Cup Celebrations
This is a bit of a World Cup wrap-up edition of Photo Friday. I’m still going through a bit of withdrawal from not having regular matches to watch, and yes, I’m still a bit sad about the outcome. And that’s all I’ll say on that. After all, judging from the parade/party that took place on Tuesday in Amsterdam, you’d never know we got silver instead of gold. There was a huge boat parade of the Dutch team through some of the canals of Amsterdam, with people following along in their own boats, or lining the canals for a view.
Swarm
Dutch Football Team

They even watched from the rooftops.
Oranje Bedankt

The players were having a good time, as well.
Van Bommel en Sneijder
Dirk Kuyt

After the boat tour, they ended up at the Museumplein for another massive orange party.
Museumplein
Oranje Zee
Oranjegekte
It was a fun party to watch, even just on tv. (Yes, I took photos of the television, but it was to help my non-Netherlands-living readers get a better idea of just what kind of party went on!)
For a better feel for it all, here’s a video someone made with clips from the televised festivities.

World Cup Madness

Orange Flags
It’s arrived. The day of the World Cup final match, and the Dutch are playing tonight, hoping to win their first World Cup title. Oranjegekte (Orange Madness/Fever) is everywhere, with most people on the streets wearing some orange somewhere.

Oranjegekte [Day 184/365]We’ve been somewhat superstitious throughout the tournament, wearing the same outfits and same bits and pieces of orange, usually in the form of a Beesie or four. I’ve got a bracelet I made from some Beesies, and since it’s also been unusually hot recently, I’ve been using Beesies to pull my hair back in bunches. I’ve also got my orange scarf with a few Beesies wrapped around it.

G has his orange shirt and a Beesie that he tends to wear hooked over his ear. We’re ready to go, even though I don’t want it all to be over. The celebrations and festivities and cheerfulness that I’ve seen so far have been so very fun. I don’t know what we’ll do with ourselves once it’s all over!

So wherever you are, wear some orange and support the Dutch team today. I want to see what it’s like to live in a country that has just won the World Cup! It’s been fascinating just seeing the celebrations through the various stages.

Hup Holland Hup!

Foto Vrijdag 2.27

Evening Glitter
It’s been a quiet week for me. Not much going on except for THE NETHERLANDS MAKING IT TO THE FINAL ROUND OF THE WORLD CUP!!!!!!!

But yeah, other than that, fairly quiet. Not a lot of photography going on, either, other than a few shots of the cats and last night’s dinner. I did take this shot on Saturday, while I was hanging out on the Vismarkt on the Oudegracht with Kerryanne and Ken. The conversation was excellent, but when I saw this glow, I couldn’t resist taking a quick shot. This is around 9:30 pm and after a very rainy start to the evening, seeing this dazzle seemed a perfect cap to a great meetup with friends. The light definitely mirrored my mood!

Happy birthday to Ken and happy travels to Kerryanne. May your days be sunny and beautiful!

Six Degrees of Internet Separation

They Asked
Yesterday after the Netherlands’ match against Slovakia (we won 2-1), I was upstairs taking photos of some of the celebratory crowds out on the streets. As I was leaning out the window to get some shots, these two guys stopped and offered themselves for a quick photo shoot. (Honestly, all I heard was photo, so who knows what they said, but they posed anyway.)

Afterward, one of them did say something else, but I didn’t catch it and didn’t feel like doing the whole “I’m sorry, my Dutch is crap, do you speak English” thing, so I sort of shrugged and they moved on. Still, it would be nice to pass the photo on to them, so I figured I’d try to use the power of the internet and see if I can find someone who knows them or at least ask others to spread the word until someone does find one of them. I’ve tweeted the photo, I’ve added it to an Utrecht Flickr group, and now I’m blogging it. So, if you know someone in Utrecht, pass this along to them, retweet the post, do whatever. I’m curious if it’s possible to find at least one of these guys through a bit of internet word of mouth.

Woordenboek Woensdag: Rust

Just a quick posting that sort of follows up on last week’s discussion of rustig vs. stil. While walking down Nachtegaalstraat the other day, I saw a sign in front of a store offering massages. At the top of the sign, it said, “Even Rust“. Having recently learned the phrase for “just looking” when shopping — Ik kijk even rond — I took that bit of info and combined it with my familiarity with rustig, and decided that even rust means something like “just relax”. If I’m horribly wrong, let me know.

Appropriately, my dictionary also lists rust as being a term for a sport’s half-time/interval. Since the rust of the football matches I’m watching are over, I’ve got to run. It’s hard to feel any rust when the US needs to win its match against Algeria if the team is to go through to the next round.

Oranje Update

Hup Holland Hup
Goodness! I’ve gone two whole posts without anything World Cup related! (I’m sure some of you enjoyed the respite.) Some people found my blog yesterday after searching for photos of Dutch fans, so I figure I might as well make some people happy! During halftime of the Netherlands-Japan match yesterday, we took Pippo out for a break and I snapped a few shots of the large orange crowds at the various cafés and bars in the neighborhood. The orange pennants were a surprise to me, since they hadn’t been up when we went out earlier that morning for groceries. Also a surprise was the temperature. It was downright cold! It’s winter in the southern hemisphere where the games are taking place, not here! I was wearing my orange scarf, both for team support and for warmth!

I do love seeing all the orange and the fun ways people dress up to show their support for the Dutch team. It seems to be working, since Holland won their match 1-0 against Japan. Unless something drastic happens, we should be through to the next round now. Hup Holland Hup! With that thought, I’ll leave you with a few more shots of the Dutch supporters and the decorations around the neighborhood. FYI, the lion is the symbol of the Dutch team.
Dutch Fans
Oranje Everywhere
Neighborhood
Half Time
Dutch Spirit
Welpie and Vuvuzela [Day 167/365]

Woordenboek Woensdag: Spelen

Perhaps not surprisingly, today’s posting is inspired — once again — by the World Cup. After all, I’ve been watching the Dutch coverage of the matches, so I’ve been hearing a lot of basic terms used repeatedly. This is how I started learning Italian years ago, as well. This is going to be a quick posting, since it’s half time of the Chile-Honduras match and I don’t have much time.

One of the terms that I’ve definitely learned in the past week has been wedstrijd (match), in part because it’s said a lot, and in part because I kept mishearing it in the past and wondered why they were talking about websites (with a strange accent) so much during matches. A similar word is spel (game). Is spel used more for “games” in general, while wedstrijd is used more for sporting/football “matches”?

Spelen (to play) is the verb of the day, or perhaps of the month. It’s definitely being used extensively! There’s also speler (player). The problem comes when de spits (striker) is buitenspel (offside), ruining a goeie kans (good chance) at a doel (goal). One last question: spits is listed in my dictionary as both de and het. Is it interchangeable?

Viva Hollandia!

Today is the Netherlands’ first match of the World Cup. We’ll be playing against Denmark this afternoon. Seemingly half the country is either taking the day off work to watch the match, or they’ll be watching at work. Basically, if you’re trying to get in touch with anyone in the Netherlands today between 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. CET, don’t bother. Sure, there are a handful of people not interested, but they probably won’t be able to hear past all the cheering and yelling anyway.

Viva Hollandia by Wolter Kroes is an older song, but it’s still gotten a lot of play recently. It’s timeless, I suppose! In fact, I could hear it being played somewhere last night as I was trying to go to sleep, so I ended up with the song in my head when I woke up this morning. I figured I might as well share it with you all. Most likely, we’ll hear it again today when we head to the Potdeksel to watch the game — if we get seats. The Potdeksel isn’t usually open on Mondays, but they’re opening early for today’s match. I think just about any bar and restaurant with a tv will be open today and showing the match. For those without access to a tv, but with internet, NOS, the Dutch channel showing the game, is going to be pumping out 120,000 live streams of the match. Internet might be a bit slow this afternoon as a result.

Let the real games begin! Wear some orange today and cheer on the Dutch team. Hup Holland Hup!

Click here if the embeded video doesn’t work or show up.

World Cup Fever

Hup Holland Hup [Day 154/365]
The World Cup starts this Friday! The Netherlands is slowly turning orange as everyone starts decorating for the festivities. Shops, cafés, houses … Everyone is getting into the spirit and showing their orange. This is one of the window displays at a café on Voorstraat. It’s the same place that had the cute bunny display at Easter. I’ve yet to go inside the café, but I always enjoy their window displays.

I have a handful of countries I cheer for at the World Cup, with varying degrees of success. I can’t help but cheer for the US, of course, but I never expect them to do particularly well. Still, they’ve improved over the years, so hopefully they’ll have a decent showing this year. Because of family, I also cheer for England/Scotland (on the rare occasion Scotland makes it to the WC). I’ve been a fan of Italy for a while now, even before meeting my boyfriend. I started cheering for them in the ’94 WC (poor Baggio!). Italy is the current reigning WC champion, but I don’t see them doing well this year at all. Lippi has made some lousy choices. Fortunately, Holland has a good team this year, at least in theory. They’ve got some excellent players like Robben (please let the hamstring injury not be an issue!), Sneijder, and Van Persie, just to name a few. I’d love to see Holland go far in the tournament, even better if they finally win!

It was quite the party here two years ago for the European Cup, so I can only imagine what it will be like for the World Cup! I can’t wait! Hup Holland Hup!
Waiting for the World Cup