Last Hurrah

Dutch Spirit
You may have noticed a lack of comment on the Euro Championship since my first post. That would have something to do with the fact that the Dutch team, although considered a favourite to do well, has yet to win either of the first two games in their group. It’s been painful, to say the least. They’re not officially out of it; there’s one more game to play tonight in the group round. However, the chances of us advancing are pretty slim and require a lot of other things to happen. Still, we’ll be watching this evening and keeping our fingers crossed. Kom op jongens! Laat de leeuw niet in z’n hempie staan!

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Hup Holland Hup

Utrecht en de EK
The country is turning orange as everyone prepares for the Netherlands’ first game of the Euro 2012 tournament against Denmark this evening. Houses have been decorated — in some cases, completely wrapped in orange — and whole neighbourhoods are now decked with orange bunting, banners and more. This orange madness is called oranjegekte, and as the team progresses, so will the mania. During the World Cup, there were orange wigs, face paint, lion costumes (the lion is the symbol of the team), and much more.

We’re ready for the game tonight with some bitterballen, Dutch cheese, and orange-coloured tompouce for dessert. We’ll also be decked out in our own orange clothing and other accessories to cheer the team on to victory. The best part is that even if the Dutch don’t go all the way, based on how things were four years ago during the same tournament, the festive spirit will continue. It looks to be a fun few weeks.

Café de Potdeksel

Green Wave Via Chicago

Tulane University
Photo courtesy of Tulane University Public Relations

I’m not a huge sports fan. I tend to watch the occasional football (soccer match) if it’s FC Utrecht or a national team that I like. I also watch the occasional American football game, usually because of G. Tonight, we’ve been watching Tampa Bay Bucs vs Chicago Bears. (The game being played in London.) As a Floridian, I naturally cheer for any Florida team, especially the Bucs, having been a fan since I was little. That said, Chicago has a player from Tulane University, my alma mater. Matt Forté was the second round draft pick in 2008, and he’s also a legacy player/student, since his father also played at Tulane. He’s a damn good player and I find myself somewhat happily cheering for Chicago, despite the fact that they are playing for the one football team I’ve supported for close to 30 years.

I remain stunned that Forté even played at Tulane. We’re an excellent academic university, but not known for our football play. As good a player as he is, I would have expected him to end up playing at a university better known for its football. I’m not complaining, though. It’s nice to have a fellow Tulane alum making some news — other than freakin’ Newt Gingrich. (He got his BA from Emory — my second choice — and his MA/PhD from Tulane.)

I’m feeling particularly nostalgic for Tulane, since this weekend was Homecoming weekend. I’d love to make it back for Homecoming 2014, my 20th anniversary of graduating. Go Green Wave!

This post — and any nonsensical writing — brought to you by a miserable cold.

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. 😉

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!

Beesie Madness

Beesie Bouquet
It’s time for another World Cup-related post! The Netherlands plays Cameroon today in the last of the group matches. We’re pretty much set to go through unless some drastic mathematical events take place. Still, I’m hoping for a good game and a clear win today. We’re one of the few nations that have consistently won. (In a side note, I’m glad that the US has made it through, but wish they hadn’t waited until almost literally the last minute!)

Albert Heijn, one of the major grocery store chains here, has been giving out little toys with every €15 purchase. The toys are known as Beesies and they come in orange, red, white, and blue, natuurlijk. We’ve ended up with quite a few, so I had some fun with them the other day. First up was the Beesie Bouquet above. I took one of my tins and arranged the Beesies with the orange ones on the outside and the red, white, and blue ones in the center. It currently sits in our front window and has caught the attention of a few passing children. Then I started playing around with a couple of them on their own. They tend to remind me of Beaker from The Muppets, with their often startled faces.
Startled Beesies [Day 170/365]
I also had a couple of them checking out our predictions for how the World Cup would go. A few predictions obviously shocked one of them, but the other was quite pleased with our predictions for the Netherlands.
Betting Beesies
Winners and Losers
Nederland For the Win
There’s a group on Flickr devoted to photos of Beesies in all sorts of spots. It’s definitely worth checking out.

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]

William and the Oranje


Dutch-related songs seem to have been the theme of the day yesterday, although Amanda took a more high-brow approach than I did. She went with the Dutch national anthem, which it turns out is the oldest national anthem and perhaps one of the longest, weighing in with 15 verses! Fortunately, they only seem to sing one or two at most.

Giovanni and I practiced the national anthem — it’s surprisingly difficult to get the word timing right — before heading out to the Potdeksel to see the Dutch football team take on Paraguay. We were excited to get a chance to blend in by singing along with the anthem. Once you get used to it, it’s quite fun. The last line is the most fun to really belt out at the end, although it’s kind of funny to think of the Dutch pledging any sort of loyalty to the Spanish in this day and age. I can’t help but hope the Netherlands and Spain don’t come up against each other at some point in the World Cup!

As for the match itself, we watched the somewhat lackluster first half at the Potdeksel before returning home for the second half. We had been perched on a couple of stools next to one of the speakers and were getting deaf in one ear. We were also watching the pull-down screen at an angle, so the shaded parts of the pitch were almost impossible to see and the Dutch were going to be aiming for the goal in the shaded side for the second half. If you care, you probably already know that the Dutch ultimately won the match 2-0, after the Danes gifted us with an own-goal, and then eventually Dirk Kuyt finally scored for the Netherlands. The team started to look much better toward the end of the second half and hopefully the next couple of matches won’t be so angsty for the Dutch fans!

Oranje

It was fun to hear somewhat universal cheers going up all over the neighborhood as the Dutch team had a few close chances and also finally scored. After the match, it was like Queen’s Day all over again, with people out in orange in full force throughout the streets. A change from the ghost town most of the country turned into during the match itself.

Orange Everywhere

Oh yeah, Italy managed a tie in their first match yesterday. We were pleasantly surprised.

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