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Learn more about Dutch culture and genealogy!

If you like reading about Dutch culture, history and genealogy keep an eye on this page. We regularly post blog articles here about these topics. Want to make sure you don't miss out on new posts? Follow Dutch Ancestry Coach on Facebook were we post an announcement whenever a new blog article comes out. You can also find other Dutch genealogy enthousiasts there from all over the world to chat and share information with.

We have been writing articles for several years now, this means that some articles may contain outdated information. We are currently going through all our articles to make necessary updates. Keep this in mind when browsing through them.








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. A farm involves property. There usually is the farm building itself with one or more barns, there is land to grow crops on or pasture the cattle, there are tools, machines, and animals. All these possessions leave their trails in the archives.

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. So where did this word dollar come from?  It was derived from the Germanic word thaler, which is short for Joachimsthaler meaning from the Joachim valley (thal). This Bohemian valley was famous in the 16th century for its great silver mines. The coins made from this silver were known to be very pure and therefore soon became extremely popular as an export currency throughout Europe.

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, although historians suspect that they may have existed in the area already in the 700s. These were fixed mills that could not turn to follow changing winds. Only if the wind was blowing from a certain direction the mills could be used. Windmills first pop up in Europe during the 1000s and 1100s in Flanders and Normandy. These were also fixed mills and mainly used for grinding grain.

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.

Both puff pastry and almond paste are most likely of Arabic origin. It is unclear how exactly it spread to northern Europe. One possible explanation is that the recipes were brought to southern Spain during the Arab occupation (711 to 1492 AD), also known as Al-Andalus. When the Christian kings Ferdinand and Isabella expelled the Arab and Jew communities in 1492 many fled to the more tolerant Low Lands taking of course their recipes with them. Over time the recipes found their way into Dutch homes and were adapted to Dutch tastes and customs. Originally "boterletters" were mainly associated with the feast of Saint Nicholas (celebrated on December 5th). Nowadays, however, it is a common treat throughout the whole festive month of December.

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