Hartjesfestival in Amsterdam
Today is the second day of the Hartjesfestival on the Zeedijk in Amsterdam. I have never heard of this festival before but Henk assures me it has been going on for many years. I went down yesterday evening to take some photos and we will be going there this afternoon with Henk and the 'gang'. However, whereas yesterday the sun shone all day, this morning it is wet outside and is raining as I type, so maybe not such a good day for photos.
I am not exactly sure what the point of the Hartjesfestival is but there are stages where bands perform and most of the buildings have handmade flags flying outside, with the theme of hearts. It seems like a great occasion for certain people to get dressed up. The people whose idea of dressing up is put put anything on which glitters, gleams or glistens... something one would expect more of the Jordaan or Albert Cuyp than the Zeedijk. But it all makes for a colourful scene. The local paper tells us also that we can expect to see men dressed up as women and women dressed up as men (as if that wasn't an everyday occurence). Didn't notice much of that yesterday.... maybe today.
The Zeedijk lies to the east/south east of Central Station and follows the old boundary of Amsterdam. It used to be home to sailors and whores, just like Jacques Brel sings in his song (The Port of) Amsterdam. A very romantic idea and a very colourful song, a song which in fact gave me my first images of the city. However, times have changed. The boundaries of Amsterdam have been pushed much further out since the 1920's/1930's and the sailing boats do not call in any more. There is a container terminal to the west and a cruise ship terminal just above the Zeedijk. The whores have moved along more into the narrow side streets, showing themslves off in the windows, aided by the infamous red lights. This leaves the Zeedijk with its Chinese shops and restaurants in the southern part towards the Nieuwmarkt and old bars and new (un)smart drug shops nearer Centraal Station.
However, Fred has looked up Hartjesdag in his Amsterdam XYZ book and he tells me that:
"A 'hart' is both a heart and a female deer (hart, in English). Although, hearts seem to be the theme of the festival nowadays, it seems that the origin had to do with the hunting of harts - wild deer, as the opening of the season started in mid-August. Apparently, the deer which had been hunted would be brought into the city and roasted on big barbecues in the streets (not in the Zeedijk, but Haarlemerstraat). An alternative is that the day is the remnant of a feast for an old German earth goddess, although this may seem a bit far-fetched."
Now, the deer are protected and we are left with yet another excuse ot go on the streets, listen and dance to music and drink beer, like these two women here! Let's hope the rain clears before the afternoon.