Ice skaters and windmills, Holland
The picture does not have tulips but it does have two other familiar symbols associated with Holland or the Netherlands, ice-skating and windmills. Although the winters are generally mild, skating is one of the most popular sports in the Netherlands. The preferred skating surface is outside on the frozen canals, ponds, streams and channels. Skating is open to all and free entertainment that can be enjoyed by all. The long stretches, such as the one depicted on the card, allow for long distance as well as figure skating.
Today’s skates are quite different from those used when skating first began in Holland around the 16th century and even those in use about 100 year ago. The old skates had wooden runners with a piece of iron underneath to provide the edge necessary to cut into the ice. Some of the little children are taught to skate as soon as they can walk. Skating was not just for entertainment but also provided a way to travel distances during the wintertime before other forms of transportation was available.
Windmills have been used in Holland since the second half of the 12th century. They have been used since antiquity not just in Holland but also in many countries. They were, and are used to mill grain, to power sawmills, paper mills, threshing mills and to process things like oil seeds, wool, paint and stone products and as drainage mills where the soil is unstable. There are about 9,000 windmills in the Netherlands.
Today modern giant windmills are being used worldwide to generate electric power. Holland has 1,050 wind and 150 watermills. There are several windmills that are open to the public on Saturdays. Volunteers are happy to explain how they work.
The most common configuration is four vanes or sails as shown on the card. Sails have sailcloth attached to the vane frame and are adjustable according to the wind speed. The mill is stopped, the adjustments made to the sail and then restarted. In the Netherlands when the windmill is not at work the position of the sails has been used to give signals from joy to mourning.
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