Dutch term – Pakjesavond

Pakjesavond = "gift evening." Traditionally, Dutch families give gifts on St. Nicholas' Eve, on December 5th. Sinterklaas and his helpers, the Zwarte Pieten, will bring gifts for all the children and some of the adults too. "Santa Claus" is derived from the Dutch word "Sinterklaas." Read more about the differences and similarities about these … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Buurtschap

A buurtschap is literally a neighborship. It is a part of a municipality or parish. Unlike a village or town, a buurtschap usually does not have a center or church but consists of a group of farms dotting the landscape. Buurtschap is a word most commonly used in rural parts of the Netherlands. The closest English term would be hamlet. In … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Dijkgraaf

A dijkgraaf is a dike reeve, the head of a waterschap [water board]. He is responsible for the water management, including flood control, in his district. His function is similar to a mayor of a municipality.  Nowadays, a dijkgraaf is appointed by the King for a period of six years. Historically, a dijkgraaf was usually … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Walvisvaart

Walvisvaart is whaling. Dutch commercial whaling started in the 1600s. Many skippers from the province of Holland went north to the waters around Scandinavia and north of Russia to catch giant whales. The village of De Rijp had a thriving whaling industry and at one time had a fleet of ten whaling ships. The whale fat was turned into codfish oil, … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Verkiezing

Verkiezing means election. In the Netherlands, it took until 1917 for all men to get the vote. Before that time, only men with sufficient means were allowed to cast a vote. Women followed two years later and got the vote in 1919. In the Netherlands, citizens can vote for three levels of government: National (Tweede Kamer, house of … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Lijkkleed

A lijkkleed is a burial pall, the cloth used to cover the coffin. Many churches had a pall that could be rented. The rents were used to benefit the poor. In some cases, the account ledgers of the pall rents survived and can be used as death records. … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Huwelijkse voorwaarden

Huwelijkse voorwaarden (literally: marriage terms) is the Dutch term for prenuptial agreement. Historically, like today, most people did not have huwelijkse voorwaarden. Prenuptial agreements were often made by people who were well-to-do or who had children from a previous marriage to provide for. A prenuptial agreement identifies the spouses, … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Heksenwaag

The Heksenwaag was the place where witches were weighed. Witches were known to be lighter than normal, in order to fly on a broom. People accused of witchcraft could go to a heksenwaag to be weighed and receive a certificate declaring them to be of normal weight, which they could then show to their accusers. … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Kolonie

Kolonie is the Dutch word for colony. As a result of the commercial activities of companies like the Dutch East India Company and West India Company, the Dutch had colonies and trade posts all over the world, including: New Netherland in North America, which covered large parts of the current states of New York and New Jersey, where the Dutch … [Read more...]

Dutch Term – Archief

October is archive month, so this week's Dutch term is archief (archive). The word archief has two meanings: The repository that holds records A group of records created by a person or organization as a result of their activities. For example, the Nationaal Archief holds the archief (records) of the West India Company. … [Read more...]