Dutch Ancestry Blog

Ever wondered how and why we ended up with all those windmills?
Did you know that Santa came from the Netherlands and was quite a different guy?
Want to give baking typical Dutch treats a try? Or wondered why we go mad for pea soup?
You'll find the answers in our blog articles on the Dutch and their somewhat quirky habits. Enjoy!


April 30, Queen's Day

Every year, on this day, April 30, the Dutch celebrate Koninginnedag (Queen's Day). In practice, this means that most cities and towns are filled with orange decorations, flags are hanged from the windows, and all kinds of festivities are organized. The most popular event is the massive garage sale that is organized along the streets. This is the only day of the year that everybody is allowed to sell their stuff on the street without a permit, and many people enthusiastically take advantage of this opportunity.The Queen and her family actively participate in the festivities, personally visiting and interacting with the Queen's subjects in a different town every year. However, in the past this was not always the case. This festive day was originally introduced at the fifth birthday of the first Dutch crown princess, Wilhelmina, on August 31, 1885...

Hurray! A Farmer In The Family!

It is always great if you can find more about an ancestor than just the basic data like date and place of birth. Noble ancestors are really great because they tend to leave more records. However, only seldom do we have the luck to find such an ancestor. Fortunately, there is another group of people that can leave lots of interesting trails in the archives: farmers. Farmers usually start out as an insignificant farmhand. However, as they grow older, many of them start their own farm, and then it gets interesting...

From Daalder To Dollar: How Dutch Influenced American English

What could be more American than the dollar, proudly showing the images of great American presidents like Lincoln, Jefferson and Roosevelt. But few Americans are aware of its very European roots. The American dollar was born in 1792 as a result of the Coinage Act of that same year. It was modeled after the most popular trade coin of that moment: the Spanish dollar. But it did not take its name from it. Actually the Spanish named their coin a real de a ocho or eight real coin.

Windmills And How They Became A Dutch Icon

One of the first images that comes to mind when people think of Holland, no matter where they are from, is a windmill. Funny enough, windmills are not a Dutch invention at all. So how come they ended up as an icon for everything Dutch? The first windmills were probably invented by the Greek. We know that the Greek Tesibius, who lived from 285 to 222 BC, was probably the first who experimented with the idea of using wind instead of water to drive a mill. We also know that the Persians had windmills for grinding grain, during the 940s...

Christmas Cooking: Almond Paste Letters

Around 11 AM most Dutch have a break for a cup of coffee with a cookie. In the festive month of December, however, the cookie is often replaced in weekends with a slice of almond paste letter also known as "boterletter" or "banketletter". This is a roll of puff pastry filled with sweet almond paste, shaped as a letter. Although most Dutch will claim that a "boterletter" is a typically Dutch treat the custom of serving cookies or pastries shaped as letters is known throughout Europe and dates back to at least Roman times. Letter shaped candy was traditionally used to teach children the alphabet. Once a child was able to either recognize or write a certain letter correctly the corresponding candy or cookie version was given as a reward for the child to eat...

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