As I contemplated this week’s theme, I had originally thought to post photos of my dog and one of my cats, who are always together, despite their differences in size and species. But as I thought more about this week and the major national holidays being celebrated this week here in the Netherlands, I realized there’s another sense of together on which I could focus.
Monday was Koninginnedag (Queen’s Day), where the entire country comes together to celebrate. Throughout the country, there are vrijmarkten (flea markets) set up where anyone can sell all sorts of things, ranging from household junkt to original art to homemade goods. Despite the crowds, at least here in Utrecht, there’s a real sense of friendliness and togetherness. Along with the vrijmarkt, there are concerts and DJs playing music, and a variety of other celebrations throughout the city, all with an overlying wash of orange!
This week — today and tomorrow — the country will also come together in remembrance and celebration. Today is dodenherdenking, in which all of the soldiers and civilians who died in wartime are remembered. At 7 p.m., the entire country will come to a halt, observing together two minutes of silence. A few years ago, I was at a concert, and although the show hadn’t started yet and the crowd was quite large and international, everyone joined together to observ the two minutes of silence. Tomorrow, 5 May, marks Liberation Day, celebrating the day that the Netherlands was finally liberated at the end of World War II. I live very close to the street where the liberating forces first arrived in Utrecht, and tomorrow a special statue of a polar bear will be placed on that street in honor of those forces, particularly the First Canadian Army, who were known as the Polar Bears.
This has been a week of togetherness, in both celebration and remembrance.