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Amsterdam on ice

a group of people riding skis on a snowy street
After years of getting used to mild weather, the Dutch have woken up one day this winter to the first of many days of frigid temperatures and the rare occurrence of Netherlands freezing over. Well, the canals at least! That’s when the Dutch scrambled through their dusty storage boxes and unearthed their ice skates.

Instantly, Amsterdam, like many other cities in Europe, became a large ice rink, to the enjoyment of all those isolated and bored due to the current world pandemic. People started practicing the national sport of ice skating, or maybe we should say that they returned to its practice. There are plenty of examples of skating scenes in seventeenth century paintings where it is seen how society had fully integrated the practice of skating into its daily life during the winter season. Hendrick Avercamp paints such a winter scene currently on display at the Rijksmuseum.

a group of people standing in front of a building

Now that the winters are getting milder and shorter, the try Dutch make the most of it. But why skating? The Netherlands is a flat country, with frozen lakes and canals which led them to perfecting it as a form of commuting and sport. In the past, it was an easy way to get around using these frozen channels and visiting family and friends.

When it comes to sports, the Dutch proudly support their national and international champions, especially in the Olympics. The Dutch have proven their skill on the ice with nine-time European champion Sven Kramer.

Maybe this year you have missed it but do not rule it out because you never know what you will be able to see on the canals of Amsterdam.