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Some foreigners still believe that Dutch people walk around in wooden clogs all day long. Yet, save for a few farmers and road workers, the majority of people in the Netherlands no longer wear this typical Dutch shoe. Long ago, however, things were different and most Dutch men and women did, indeed, wear clogs!
The origins of Dutch clogs
Travel back seven hundred years and the clog was easily the most popular form of footwear in the Netherlands. There were several reasons for this – clogs (klompen in Dutch) were not only easy to fashion from a raw material that was relatively cheap and in abundance; but the wood from which they were made also kept feet nice and cool in summer and lovely and warm in winter.
And just as most of us now benefit from a selection of different shoes for specific purposes, the average Dutchman also had a variety of clogs to choose from. During the week for example, Dutch people tended to wear plain clogs, which were swapped for a pair of ornate, hand painted wooden shoes (suitable for church) on Sundays.
In the Netherlands clogs also had a symbolic meaning. In fact it was customary in many Dutch regions for a groom to present his bride with a hand-carved and exquisitely decorated clog (as a token of his devotion) on the day of their wedding.
The manufacture and unique properties of clogs
Up until the last century Dutch clogs were crafted exclusively by hand, by old-fashioned Dutch clog makers who were considered genuine craftsmen. Today the majority of Dutch clogs are now manufactured in factories, although several traditional clog makers, clog museums and annual clog fairs (where visitors can witness clog makers displaying their artisan skills) still exist.
Clogs are made from highly durable material that can withstand extreme heat, heavy weights and sharp objects and, as such, are the safety footwear of choice in the Netherlands. Which is why so many Dutch farmers, gardeners, factory workers and road workers continue to wear their clogs with pride. Of course, they’re also a must-have souvenir for tourists and expats who often buy clogs as a special memento of their time in Holland.
Prefer to read this article in Dutch? Then visit our sister blog, Heimwee.info, specifically intended for Dutch emigrants.