Tag Archive for elfstedentocht

Fryslân, my homeland

Friese vlag

I live in Fryslân, a province in the north of The Netherlands.
We have our own language, our own sports, our own history, our own heroes, our own identity.
This Frisian identity is very important to us. Many of us don’t feel like we’re dutch. I certainly am not seeing myself as dutch. I’m Frisian.

Language:
The languages most spoken in our province are Frisian and dutch. Frisian is spoken in the whole of the Waddenzee region. We like to think the English language has been derived from Frisian, but it’s probably the other way around. There are many words that look and sound a lot like English, but it’s the same for Dutch and German.
There are three dutch universities where you can take Frysk as a major (or minor).
Most of the town names are either in Frisian or in Frisian and dutch. We, of course, prefer the Frisian names.

plaknammeboerd_0

Sports:
There are a few sports that  are evident to the Frisian identity.

Keatsen is a traditional Frisian sport, related to American handball and fives, that is most commonly practiced by people from the northern Dutch province of Friesland (Fryslân). It is believed to be one of the oldest ballgames and was an unofficial demonstration sport at the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam. The score is similar to tennis. The first team scoring six games wins the match.

Fierljeppen is a traditional sport of the Frisians and of the Dutch. Ljeppen is West Frisian for “to leap”. It is a fine example of the close relationship between the Frisian and English languages.
The sport involves a long pole and a body of water. The pole is between 8 and 13 m long and has a flat round plate at the bottom to prevent it from sinking into the muddy river or canal bottom. A jump consists of a sprint to the pole (polsstok), jumping and grabbing it, then climbing to the top of the pole while trying to control its forward and lateral movements over a body of water, and finishing by landing on a sand bed opposite to the starting point.

Skûtsjesilen is the Frisian sailing competition with skûtsjes, in particular the competitions organized by the SKS, and the IFKS. Matches with skûtsjes have been organized since the nineteenth century. Then being sailed as the farmers had no cargo and the skippers could earn a cash prize. Often the innkeepers who wrote out a match, for example if there was a fair, so after the awards ceremony could be held in the cafe.

Schaatsen has been a national sport since the dawn of time. Especially the Elfstedentocht is very important to our province. The Elfstedentocht (West Frisian: Âlvestêdetocht, English: Eleven cities tour), at almost 200 kilometres (120 mi), is a speed skating match and a leisure skating tour. It is touching every city (by history) of the province. It is held, in practice in January or February and not more than once in a winter, when the natural ice along the entire course is at least 15 centimetres (6 in) thick; sometimes on consecutive years, other times with gaps that may exceed 20 years. When the ice is suitable the tour is announced, and starts within 48 hours.

History:
Our culture slowly began to emerge around 400-200 BC. The Roman occupation of Frisia began in 12 BC with the campaign of Nero Claudius Drusus in Germania. The early eighth-century AD is known for the Frisian king Redbad and the missionary Saint Boniface.

At the start of the Middle Ages, Frisia stretched from what is now the Belgian border to the River Weser in Germany. After incorporation into the Frankish empire, Friesland was divided into three parts. The westernmost part developed at the start of the second millennium into the County of Holland.

Frisia

Heroes:
Grutte Pier Pier Gerlofs Donia (c.1480 – 1520) was a Frisian warrior, pirate, and rebel. He is best known by his West Frisian nickname Grutte Pier (“Big Pier”; in the pre-1980 West Frisian spelling written as Greate Pier), or by the Dutch translation Grote Pier which referred to his legendary size and strength.
Approximately 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) to the north-east of Donia’s village of Kimswerd, in the city of Franeker, the Black Band, a Landsknecht regiment in the service of George, Duke of Saxony was quartered. The regiment was charged with suppressing the civil war between the Vetkopers, who opposed Burgundian and subsequently Habsburg rule, and the Schieringers. The Black Band were notorious as a violent military force; when their pay was insufficient or lacking, they would extract payments from local villagersand on 29 January 1515, the Black Band plundered Donia’s village, then allegedly raped and killed his wife, Rintze Syrtsema, and burnt to the ground both the village church and Donia’s estate. Seeking revenge, Pier started a guerrilla war campaign against the Habsburgs and allied himself with Charles of Egmond, Duke of Guelders (1492–1538). The legendary status of Grote Pier as a hero or a villain has endured over the centuries with his exploits retold in book, poetry, song and more recently television.
Today, a great sword that is said to have belonged to Pier is on display at the Fries Museum in Leeuwarden. It measures 2.15 metres (7 ft) in length and weighs about 6.6 kilograms (14.6 lb). Some sources put his height at 7 ft. Pier was alleged to be so strong that he could bend coins using just his thumb, index and middle finger. A huge helmet said to be Grutte Pier’s is kept in the town hall of Sneek.

ZWaardGP

This post has been written for the Weekly Writing Challenge. I couldn’t simply find one icon that would represent my homeland, so instead I chose to take fryslân as the icon.

Elfstedentocht

As some of you know, I live in Fryslân. This is one of the most northerly provinces in the Netherlands.
Fryslân has 11 cities and many, many more villages.
All cities are linked through canals and waterways and you can get from one town to another quite quickly on skates.

Elfstedentocht-Plaatsnamen

Picture courtesy of wikipedia.

Ever since the 1700s people have been doing a skating tour through all 11 cities (200 km). In 1909 the first organised tour was held. After that race an association was established.
Ever since then, when there’s enough ice (20 cm over the whole length of the track) the race and tour have been held for members of the Vereniging De Friese Elfsteden (Association of the Eleven Frisian Cities).
Since then there have been 15 races.
Last year at the last possible moment the race did not happen. The whole province was ready, the whole country was ready. But the ice wasn’t. So they didn’t think it was safe to go ahead with the race.

But last week it starting freezing again. And while the water was fairly warm, and the ice didn’t form as quickly as we all would have liked, weathermen and women say the frost is most likely going to stay and the chances of the Elfstedentocht happening have not been so good since 1997, when the last race was organized.

I know the weather is unpredictable and I know it s still a long way away. But the excitement within me is growing. And I can’t help but think back to 1997, when we had a wonderful time.
So I got my skates from the attic and brought them to a shop to get them sharpened, Not that I’m planning on doing a 200 km skating tour, but I’d like to do a portion of it again. like last year.

This is a video of the town where I lived back in 1997. I hope you enjoy it.

More on last years skating can be found here.

Skating

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