Avond Vierdaagse or “Why is there an Exodus of eight-year-olds walking down the street?”

June 10, 2009

5:45 pm yesterday.  I was in the office on the second story when I happened to look up from a great Skype conversation to see an army of eight year olds, balloons and parents outside our house.  “What the…?”  “Why its Avond Vierdaagse! (literally: “evening four days”)  Didn’t you know?”  Here’s what I’ve found on the issue (from here):

One of the nicest Dutch traditions can be observed in June of every year when hundreds of thousands of walkers take to the early evening streets to join the avond vierdaagse (evening four day event). For four evenings in a row children and adults walk distances of 3, 5, 10 or 15km, mostly wearing a school or club t-shirt…

The tradition dates from the Second World War when groups first started organizing these events to encourage physical exercise. The walks were banned by the Germans by the occupation but they resumed after the war when local walking groups and town councils began to organize them again.
In our town you see hundreds of walkers following the route for these four June evenings. Nowadays it is seen as a very good way to encourage children to get off the couch and to put away those dreadful gameboy thingamajigs. However, the positive aspects of the tradition are somewhat undermined by the fact that lots of the children seem to walk with bags of candy and cookies or downing sugary drinks…

One more thing we didn’t know we were supposed to be looking forward; part of moving in to a new culture I guess…We’ll see if we join in the walking madness tonight!

Now get out there and walk!


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