We’re finally getting the Dutch flag in our parliament…

It’s rare to see any real patriotism in the Netherlands, with a permanently ingrained fear of nationalism from WWII, but yesterday a rare step was taken for Holland. Soon the Dutch flag will be ‘waving’ in the Second Chamber, reminding its representatives who and what they’re working for – or at least, hopefully it will.

Dutch flag

Overwhelming support for the Dutch Flag – from Left to Right Wing.

This new piece of national decoration was suggested by SGP-foreman Kees van der Staaij, who’s small “ultra-conservative” protestant party doesn’t usually find much support on well – anything… But, for a change, the foreman gave a sensible and fair speech, pointing out that the national flag hangs in parliament in most nations to serve as an aesthetic and obvious symbol of the nation. And with the Dutch lowered trust in politics lately, that might not be a bad idea!

Holland flag

The Netherlands right now

GroenLinks-foreman, Jesse Klaver, suggested hanging the EU flag next to it – however that found little of the same enthusiasm. Perhaps because the EU’s popularity has somewhat declined, even in Holland.

Van Der Staaij however was very happy and thankful to receive such widespread support throughout the Second Chamber – all the way up to Geert Wilders himself who’s PVV actually brought the motion forward together with the SGP in a unique cooperation. Wilders stated to be very proud that the national tri-color will be serving its role in parliament.

Before we start explaining the Dutch flag. You might want to have a look at this article on the Amsterdam flag or this one on the difference between the Netherlands and Holland

The Dutch Flag – Variants and Uses

You may have noticed that the Dutch flag comes in several variants and uses, lets have a quick look at some of them:

The Orange, White and Blue

So Holland is, of course, red, white and blue however – you’ve probably seen the Dutch flag with an orange stripe instead of a red one. And that is not entirely without controversy.

Prinsenvlag

This particular flag was first waved by “Buccaneer Rebels” known as the “Geuzen” (don’t bother trying to pronounce it!) who helped liberate the Netherlands from Spanish Rule in the 16th century with a little help from a man named William of Orange. So far so good, right? Well, wrong… Someone had to ruin it.

Back in the 1930’s, yes we’re traveling four hundred years in time, a small party called the NSB (National Socialist Movement) was starting to rise in the Netherlands. The NSB announced in the early 30’s that the “Orange, Blanche, Blue” was the only real Dutch flag and started displaying it at many of their events. In an act of defiance the Dutch Royal House, by name of Queen Wilhelmina, put a law into effect that the Red, White and Blue was the only real Dutch flag and always would be.

The NSB however had some very powerful friends in a neighboring country – those friends were the Nazis. And when Holland was trampled and completely tarnished for resisting in 1940 the NSB managed to convince the Nazi party that they should be at the helm of the country. Of course under the ever watchful eyes of the German occupation force. Interestingly the Nazis decided not to revert to the NSB’s firey wish of an Orange-stripe but kept the Red-stripe, though they heavily restricted any real use of the Dutch flag because the Third Reich had great plans to permanently absorb the Netherlands into its homelands. Something that never worked and caused much friction and suffering during the years of occupation.

As a result however the Orange-stripe on the flag is often still used by the rare few racist groups that are active in Holland, who often honor the NSB and those of the German Occupation Force that lost their lives on Dutch soil. As such, even though the “Orange Flag” has an honorable beginning as part of Dutch resistance and independence, it was tarnished by Nazi sympathizers and many Dutch are a little spooked when confronted with said flag. Thanks a lot, Nazi-scum!
Still, you will often find the flag on old paintings of the brave Geuzen-buccaneers fighting Spanish war ships or Dutch merchant ships sailing for the East – though in case of the latter the Orange was not a result of intention but simply a faded Red-stripe from bleaching in tropical sun and salt ocean water.

The Tiny Orange Pennant – Who Dat Then?

But there’s still a speck of orange today: A little, independent orange pennant that is sometimes hung above the Red, White and Blue to celebrate the House of Orange, the Dutch Royal House who, indeed – trace back to that same William of Orange and his Buccaneer partners – avast ye’ Hollanders and Zeelanders, drown those Spaniards!

 

When the Netherlands flag is flying ‘Half-Mast’– Pay Attention

If the flag is half-mast, be aware that there is some sort of national – or at least regional – mourning and that official permission has been given for public display. You will mostly see this during the 4th of May, during the Remembrance of the Dead (WWII), or after national tragedies such as the MH-17 downing over the Ukraine. Of course, any deaths in the Royal Family or exceptionally important political figures (still in function) will also usually bring the half-mast flag with it. So, be aware, the Dutch may not be in their happiest mood that day – it’s there for a reason!

Celebrate Good Times!

Last, but not least, the Dutch also use their flags for ‘once in a lifetime achievements’ – graduate high school? Hang the flag high with your backpack attached to it! Got a new baby? Hang that flag to show a new Dutch citizen has just been born! Did you eat too much fries at your favorite greasy, Amsterdam snack store while drunk and now you have to throw up? …Don’t, just don’t.

netherlands flag

Oh, and yes – the flag of New York City is Blue, White and Orange in reference to its Dutch history while the flag of tiny Luxembourg is Red, White and Light Blue because it used to be part of the Netherlands before Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg separated. Yes, for real, the Netherlands actually used to be a medium-sized European country. Good times…

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