Navigating faith, love, and life in the Netherlands

Friday, December 6, 2013

Decemberzegels 2013 [Postage Stamp Stories: A Series]

Postage stamps tell us stories.  Sometimes these stories are told through symbols of the nation.  Sometimes these stories are captured in photographs.  Sometimes the stories of the stamps coincide with the content of the mail.  

As I live in the Netherlands, I find stories in the postage stamps.  My husband collected stamps when he was younger, and those have unique stories as well.  The focus of this series will be on learning Dutch culture and history through postage stamps.


Today we received our first Christmas/holiday card of the season!

Sinterklaas festivities were yesterday with pakjesavond - when kids received their gifts at home.  My husband, sister-in-law, brother-in-law, and some friends went to the theater in Rotterdam to see a performance of Harrie en Twee Meesters by Jon Van Eerd, and we definitely noticed that there were a lot of the ... shall we say, older generation ... there.  So many other adults of the middle generation :) were home with their families.

I've not ventured into the wide world beyond my language school, but I'm going to guess that activities have tapered off now that Sinterklaas is over.  Of course, there was a big push for buying gifts, especially for kids, with the stores in the center open later 2 extra nights this week.

The stamp that was on our envelope is found in the second row, first column.  I like the "cuteness" of these stamps and the hand-drawn design.  If I could, I would buy nice stamps and never actually use them! (which I did for a while in the US, then realized I could actually use the postage.)

These stamps tell so much about Dutch culture, just in tiny glimpses.  Here are my stream-of-consciousness reflections on these stamps.

The houses look so gezellig with their lights glowing from the inside.


Fireworks are set off each New Year's Eve, and the noise is nearly constant for at least thirty minutes.  The year before last, my now-husband showed me the fireworks in his parents' neighborhood via Skype.  The flashes of light were nearly nonstop!


Ice skating is a common Dutch activity, and when it gets cold, people keep track of the ice in case the Eleven Cities' Tour (elfstedentocht) can be held.  I can't even imagine training for such an event in the hopes it occurs within your lifetime!

A few folks on our street have dogs, so they are often walking them during the day.  I think walking a dog would be a great way to meet people and make conversation, but walking the dog outside in the rain does not sound pleasant to me! 

Hmm...apparently mistletoe might actually be a thing here! Pucker up! (Did you know the mistletoe plant is a parasite?)

The tall building on the right reminds me of the Westerkerk tower in Amsterdam.

March 2012

When it comes time to deliver the mail, yes, the post-people really do use their bikes.  Usually our mail comes during the day, and the person walks past and pushes it into our mail slot in our door.  If we want to mail something, we can go around the corner and drop it into the "local" or "out of town" mailbox equivalents.  Otherwise, the nearest location to purchase postage is in a convenience store in the train station!  

Buy yours here! (Or just enjoy window-shopping!)


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