Dutch Donderdag – Happy Yule

Yule-tide greetings to you all! Or, if you’re in the southern hemisphere, happy Litha! Today is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. From here-on-in the days get longer &, apparently, warmer. Although those warm spring days seem a long way off!

For my first Dutch Donderdag post I shall head off on a tangent…

The reason I celebrate the solstice is that I am a Pagan. I celebrate the changing of the seasons. To me the earth & her turning is a more tangible & natural thing to tune in to than a man on a fluffy cloud. I’ve been Pagan since I was quite little. I was not raised in a Pagan household. Actually it was more atheist/agnostic. The odd thing was that when I was little my mum used to make me say the bedtime prayer before I went off to sleep. You know… the one that goes “Matthew, Mark, Luke & John, bless this bed I lie upon…. Amen”. We would say it every night until the young feminist in me asked “what about ‘Our Women’?” Of course this makes more sense if you realised we pronounced Amen as ‘our men’. Anyway, at that precise moment that god-based routine died a swift death.

A few years later I pointedly told my mother that I didn’t believe in god. My mother asked me what I did believe in. I told her that I felt that the earth was some type of ‘organism’ able to produce the plant & animals we see around us. She told me that sounded like Gaia Theory & so the notion that I was a Pagan took hold. My weird thoughts actually had a name, although I would probably just class myself as a bog-standard Pagan… nothing fancy.

So these days, instead of celebrating Christmas I celebrate the winter solstice. I decorate the house in tinsel (I LOVE Christmas decorations & can’t wait till December 1st) &, until this year, I would always have a tree up, no matter how cramped the flat. Now I live in a flat with 2 cats & 1 destructive kitten so trees are a no-no & all the tinsel is at ceiling level, firmly out of reach of curious paws. I open my presents on the solstice and usually make a festive meal for my partner. If I’m on my own then I have the added treat of watching my Hogfather DVD by way of festive entertainment.

This year’s celebrating was a little different. Seeing as I had my Amsterdam Girls meet-up group lunch today (the group is for expat & local girls/women to come together for a gossip over good food & wine) & because my boyfriend wouldn’t be home till late my festive meal was restaurant based. Not that I’m complaining as it was nice to be waited on instead of me doing all the cooking.

Now we get to the minuscule Dutch bit… a restaurant review

Lunch today was at a charming little place called Van Kerkwijk located down, what looks like, a back alley called Nes, just off Dam Square. There was no menu to be given. Instead it was a set meal that started off with a VERY nice pumpkin & parsnip soup (quite festive in itself) followed by plates of meat (not for veggie me), veg, pâté, cheeses & bread that we could help ourselves to. It was also very reasonably priced. Enough food to satisfy us, plus a couple of drinks came to about €15 a head. So if you’re ever in Amsterdam it’s well worth a try.

So Season’s Greetings. Summer is coming… I promise!

My sad little Christmas tree that no cats can climb up… at least it made my present look HUGE!

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