As today is National Windmill Day here in the Netherlands, I thought it was only appropriate to discuss Dutch people’s love for these tall, old-fashion, spinny things. Apart from those uncomfortable yellow shoes (come on, you know the ones) there is possibly no other Dutch object as iconic as the windmill.
Not surprisingly, Dutch people’s widespread use of the windmill grew out of two very cardinal Dutch traits: practicality and necessity. We all know this little country has one mortal enemy – W-A-T-E-R – and
windmills watermills served as a crucial tool in the ever-present battle of the elements. The Dutch are masters of water control, and poldermolen (dike mills) were used in an attempt to sponge up as much of that liquidy stuff as possible.
There are still over 1,000 windmills left in the lowlands, a far cry from the 10,000+ that used to proliferate the Dutch landscape. Dutch people have taken their love for molens a step further: by living in them! 15% of the mills in Holland are currently being used as homes.
As with any country, items that play a significant role in the culture often make their way into the lexicon. Take the numerous Dutch expressions referring to windmills as proof of their importance and enormous cultural significance:
De molen gaat niet om met wind die voorbij is.
[Literal translation: The windmill doesn’t care about the wind that came before.
i.e. Don’t worry yourself with the past/The past is the past.]
Een klap van de molen gekregen hebben.
[Literal translation: Been hit by a windmill.
i.e. To describe someone who is irrational/not making sense]
Dat is koren op zijn molen.
[Literal translation: That is grist (ground grain) to his mill.
i.e. That which supports/strengthens his own argument]
Tegen windmolens vechten
[Literal translation: To fight with windmills.
i.e. To describe the futilely of a fight/ To fight a losing battle]
Feel free to add more to the list!