Welcome to Wokum...

Welcome to Wokum...

If you're an expat who likes the weather in the Netherlands, please explain it to me. Personally, now that we're heading into autumn and winter, my mind wanders off to those moments cycling to work in 4-degree celsius torrential rain on a Monday morning. In the dark.

But the weather also has its benefits. Usually, it creates an excuse to snuggle up in a dimly lit brown cafe, have some deep-fried snacks and good beer with friends. And the festive season is coming up.

Stock up, share, 'cause it's gonna be tough

We've got Halloween coming up, which has procured semi-permanent recognition here in the Netherlands, even though most of us Dutchies are still on the fence as to how we're supposed to celebrate Halloween properly. Dressing up and getting hammered is fairly easy, but the whole trick or treat thing sometimes backfires.

You see, since forever we've celebrated Sint Maarten. I only vaguely recall the whole idea behind Sint Maarten, to be honest: some dude called Maarten, born in Hungary around 316 A.D. to two roman parents (If his dad's name was Nortius Maximus, I'm going to keel over laughing), basically had the philosophy of giving out stuff to the needy.

Good on him. It subsequently became linked to Christianity. You see, Maarten - even though interested in said religion - didn't want to become a Bishop, but he made the error of hiding from his devotees in a cot full of geese.

Again, Monty Python sketches pop up in my head.

Sint Maarten is basically a day to remember that the coming months will be harder, and that food will become scarcer.

Halloween is pretty much the same thing. Except this is a Celtic fest, originally, where people believed that the ghosts of the dead would come back to earth and - for some reason - thought it would be a good idea to mess with their crops. So, if you see someone staggering across the street wearing a “slutty nurse” costume, don't judge. Remember: they're warding off ghosts.

The idea behind the two is similar: stock up, share, 'cause it's gonna be tough.

Then we've got the similarities between Sinterklaas and Santa Claus, where admittedly there's a bit of a - let’s call it a “tussle” - in opinions about the first one. I'm guessing there's probably a rap sheet to be found somewhere on Santa as well. I mean: Edward Snowden had to take up residence in Russia, so maybe that's why Santa lives on the North Pole…

I could continue on for a bit to illustrate how basically all of the holidays we humans in different cultures celebrate are based upon the same principles. I think Bill and Ted summarised it best: "Be excellent to each other."

Don't judge.

Be excellent to each other

Today, I read an article where the term "Wokum" was coined (whoever came up with that one is a genius, by the way). I liked that description. It was followed by the sentence: "all modern discussions are being settled here."

Nobody raised an eyebrow when Chris Pontius from Jackass did handstands in a kilt to show off his wiener on Dam Square (if he'd been on a bicycle path though, things might have worked out poorly for him).

But, the thing is, these next few months will undoubtedly raise some eyebrows, due to the festivities. And opinions. Opinions are like a**holes, they say - everyone has one.

So, going into these next months of scarce food, rising gas prices, and what else the world will throw at us - like the distressed baboon it's rapidly becoming - welcome to Wokum. Be excellent to each other.

Haroen T. Lemmers


Haroen T. Lemmers

HI! I am Haroen. Named after an Arabian sheik Harun-Al-Rasjid. I dunno. I was three when I left and have lived in the Lowlands for all my life. My...

Read more



Leave a comment