Holland vs The Netherlands

Impromptu parties are the best: last night our neighbour who has the keys to the rooftop, decided to throw a party. It was amazing! BBQ, music from big speakers, a bin full of cold water  to put your bottles in, girls in summer dresses and flip-flops, guys in shorts and erhm Birkenstocks (It was such a shame of an otherwise beautiful man. I mean really?!)  Dancing, drinking with the Canary Wharf offices and the Thames in the background… A great way to meet new friends 😉

So this morning was a late start. After a few stressful attempts on google in our quickly heating up flat to find the perfect spot to watch tonight’s match, my sister and I looked at each other on the sofa. We were both thinking the same thing: we could go to the Dutch pub De Hems and join the crowds. Unfortunately it is located by China-Town and we will look like we just accidentally strolled in, plus and this is our biggest issue, the crowds will be Dutch or better said: Hollanders.

Hollanders are Dutch people from Holland. Understandably Seinfeld once had the line: ” If that is the Netherlands, then where is Holland and who are the Dutch?” so here follows a short explanation:

In the UK, well anywhere abroad Holland is equal to the Netherlands. In fact, Holland is only a part of the Netherlands: North-Holland and South-Holland are provinces. Most big cities Amsterdam, Rotterdam, the Hague etc are located in these provinces. A lot of international business and events happen there and so it is no surprise that Holland which is just West, has become synonymous to the whole country.

The Netherlands is also divided by the Rijn-river and back in the day this was a natural border for any resistance and uprising to happen: in the time of William of Orange it made that the people “down-south” stayed Catholics and “up-north” became Protestants. In the WW II the battle of Arnhem meant that the south was already liberated, while the northern provinces had to suffer the Hunger-winter of 1944.

My sister and I were born in the Catholic South and we love the people there. We love the warm character of the people and the community feel. I have even grown a fondness of people from the Northern provinces as they are basically the same; same  kind of rural areas, they might not throw party for every Saint’s birthday but they are as friendly and very proud of their province. (Pub-quiz fact: the province of Friesland even has its own language and is acknowledged in the country; officially there are two languages in The Netherlands.)

But then the Hollanders. I guess the main problem is that they see themselves as the true Dutch. They are city-folk, businessmen who see the rest of the country as farmers. They live in (or at least close by the big cities and deem everywhere else boring and backward. They live in the international known places, they fly out for international quests and consider themselves people of the world. This is why you can find so many of them in big cities abroad. When I meet them and tell them where I am from, the look I get is a mix of pity and understanding. Pity for my deprived childhood and understanding for my need to move abroad.

Their assumption annoys me, as I leave home with a heavy heart every time. They do not see what my friends seem all know: unless you, like me, have an inexplicable itch to scratch, there really is no reason to leave the beautiful south!

As I thought of the amazing night in my local two weeks ago, I realised it were the people who made the night. Thus for tonight there was only one solution: beer, curry and my sister, who I happen to find the best company in the world.

No stress, no sweat:  bring on Spain!

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