Dutch Outings: Skating

Figure 1.--Here we see a group from Tilburg in Brabant (North Holland) out for a winter skate. They are socializing on the ice as they pause to chat. The snapshot was taken in 1935. Brabant is a devoutly Roman Catholic part of the Netherlands. Notice the priest in his black cloak (capa magna) worn over a cassock. Also the teenage schoolboy in his Catholic school clothes--black short trousers and long black stockings with a jacket. We also see a local businessman in his long overcoat and black homburg hat about to light a cigar. The ice in the winter becomes like a street in the city where pedestrians (in this case skaters) pause to chat. The boy looks to be about 13 or 14 years old fourteen and probably attends a local Catholic school, where conservative standards of dress were not only encouraged but required. A reader writes, "This picture is magic. It captures a moment in time. What fun ice skating and the adults smoke a cigar as they enjoy the ice and winter weather. Electronic toys would have a cyberspace assimilation and pretending! This is actuality. Far superia to the soul!"

The Netherlands is famous for skating. Probably a greater percentage of the Dutch learn to skate than people in any other country. It was one of the subjects immortalized by Dutch and Flemish artists (16th century). The country is a low-lying part of Europe. Thus there are streams, lakes, ponds, and canals everywhere, including the cities. Thus where people in some countries may go out for a brisk wintr walk, the Dutch have traditiionally taken off wuith skates. Sometimes it is a family outing. One of the most cherished national images is rosy-cheeked children all wrapped tight in cozy warm coats and brightly colored wool scarves and stocking caps, of course with poms, hapily skating on frozen canals with snow flakes falling all around. There are parks where skating takes place, but much of it takes place on the canals that cut across cities like Ansterdam. Today they are inside rinks where people can skate. This tradition in the modern Netherlands mkay be declining somewhat.


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Created: 4:53 PM 6/11/2013
Last updated: 4:53 PM 6/11/2013