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Old crafts fairs offer glimpse in to the labourious life of ancestors

Wooden shoe making show source of laughter to bridal couple and guests

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

Technology has been advancing at a pace only teenagers seem to be able to keep up with, for awhile at least. For everyone else, the developments continue at such a dazzling speed so that even the most technology advanced individuals sooner or later will show signs of fatigue. This fast paced-progress has a serious downside when outdated and discarded ways and methods, the launching pads and the stepping stone of progress, disappear from memory. Do technology wizards when lost on a hiking trail with a failing lighter still know how to kindle a fire the old tried and proven way? Do they know how to find a specific listing in a print phonebook?

Philosophers and other analysts see a connection between fast-paced societal changes and a widespread rising interest in roots and history. For example, Dutch architects are designing leading-edge concepts while their compatriots are pushing the envelope in monument preservation at home and abroad.

While launches of new technology draws great crowds, special events bureaus in the Netherlands offer cultural heritage packages for occasions such as milestone birthdays, anniversaries, reunions and even weddings. Oh, sure, a wooden shoe making demonstration at the wedding of a high-tech wizards?! Why not? There are great, memorable and even hilarious photo-opportunities to be had with the bridal couple as well as the guests trying out random pairs of wooden shoe for a perfect fit! Playing with roots can produce much laughter!

More common is the call for a multi-old craft presentation at special market days and cultural heritage fairs. Since it is impossible to bring such an event to every place where Dutch immigrants, past and present, as well as their descendents reside in North America, a pictorial display in this issue, drawn from a number of events, will have to suffice for now. When visiting the Netherlands next time, watch for such cultural heritage and old crafts’ events and connect with traditions and roots. Imagine seeing sights your parents, grandparents and other ancestors saw and possibly did for a livelihood in their lifetime.

The full-colour illustrated English-language feature on old Dutch crafts, shows nearly 20 crafts. Some of them can be found in Dutch surnames, such as Klompenmaker (wooden shoe maker), Kant (it refers to the lace maker trade), Smit, Smid, Staal and Faber (black smith) and Dekker (thatcher), to name a few, suggesting that an ancestor earned his living with that craft.

Anyone interested in a copy of this December 9, 2011 feature, is welcome to request a copy of this issue of the Windmill Herald.