A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
So a few days ago as I walked to the Central Station I passed by this big clock which is apparently counting down to something that I had absolutely no clue what it is. Then I noticed that the word “Leidens ontzet” started to appear almost everywhere I go, on a notice hung on the door of Aldi, on the chalkboards that are often placed in front of cafe and restaurants. Curiosity finally got the better of me and I came home to ask my Dutch housemate. Turned out, the clock is counting down to October 3, and apparently as Leideners we should be ashamed know knowing what this day is all about and why it is such a huge celebration for Leiden.
Long story short, 2 and 3 October 1574 marked the historical moment of Leiden regaining its liberation after a very long Spanish siege. A figure to remember is van der Werff, the mayor of Leiden at that time, who was willing to offer himself as food to the starving Leideners. You can see the painting depicting this memorable scene in the Town Hall and also the statue of van der Werff in Leiden.
Most important of all, this is a day to celebrate! Coming from an Asian country that is so hyped about liberation and independence, I can totally sense that this is the biggest event in Leiden. Some Leideners even say it is going to be even bigger this year! Better yet, it is going to be a time to meet and have fun with fellow Leideners and to appreciate its rich history and culture, whether you are from Leiden or not.
The celebration will run from October 1 to October 3 with lots and lots of fun activities, including outdoor musical performances, a fair with entertaining attractions and traditional food without any doubt. If you would like to celebrate like a true Leidener, definitely cook or just go somewhere to eat hutspot – a dish of mashed potatoes, carrots and onions and find out what it has to do with the history 😉
I’m very excited already and hope you are too. Be aware of the traffics and road closure during those days. Read here to understand more about the history of Leidens Ontzet and here to keep track of all the fun things to do this weekend!