This week marks the anniversary of Leiden's Relief in October 1574. Short version: after Leiden's city council decided to swear loyalty to Prince William of Orange, rather than Sovereign Lord King Philip II of Spain, Spanish armies sieged the city for several months, and the inhabitants ran out of food long before help came. But eventually, a fleet of Dutch rebels broke dike after dike to flood the land around Leiden, and the Spanish forces fled the rising waters. The fleet brought white bread and herring to feed the starving citizens, who had also scavenged the abandoned Spanish camp for some "Hutspot" (mashed potatoes, carrots, and onions). These dishes are traditionally eaten every October 3rd since.
I had originally thought that this was something the rest of the country quietly noted, but apparently it's all and only Leiden that closes shop to celebrate. (Thanks, Michiel, for the correction!) I got both Thursday and Friday off work, but the city had been gearing up all week—on my Monday morning commute, I noticed the sudden appearance of a roller coaster in the town square:
By midday on Friday, everything was back to normal: streets swept clean and people going about their business. Next time this happens will be
Thanks for reading! You've asked for shots of funny Dutch signs (we're on the lookout), more candid photos of inflatable kayaks (may be a while, folks), and more pictures of us happy. Here's an installation on the last request: