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Why People Still Like Dutch Windmill Today?

The Netherlands is known as the “Country of Windmills” in the world. Windmills, which are now regarded as tourist landmarks, were actually used for food processing, drainage and land reclamation, wood processing, etc., which played an important role in the economic development of the Netherlands. “witness”. In order to commemorate this important “hero” in development, the Dutch designate the second weekend of May every year as the “National Mill Day” in the Netherlands, also known as “National Windmill Day”.

On the “National Windmill Day”, hundreds of windmills and watermills in the Netherlands are open to the public. The owner of the mill explains the history and operation technology of the windmill, and at the same time carries out a variety of activities such as windmill fairs, exhibitions and bread baking demonstrations. The interior of the windmill has also been transformed into a windmill-themed museum, allowing people to fully experience the windmill culture while deepening their understanding of windmills.

The “Windmill Day” event not only aims to commemorate the ancient industrial culture of the Netherlands and increase people’s attention to windmills, but also hopes to raise funds for the repair and maintenance of windmills. Every year on “Windmill Day”, these windmills will be decorated with colorful flags and restarted to welcome tourists from all over the world.


Dutch windmill development history

The earliest windmill in the Netherlands appeared in the 13th century and was introduced from Germany. At first it was only used for grain processing such as grinding flour, and it was called a grinding windmill (korenmolen). The low-lying terrain of the Netherlands, in many places even lower than sea level, makes large swathes of land wet, and the water level in the fields cannot be drained naturally. So in the 15th century, another depression windmill (poldermolen) appeared to drain low-lying areas or adjust the water level of the field to facilitate people’s farming and living. The Dutch obtained a large amount of land in the west and north by using the windmills in the depression.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, the windmill played an important role in the economic development of the Netherlands. Various raw materials from all over the world were transported to the windmill by water for processing: timber from the Nordic countries and countries along the Baltic Sea, linseed from Germany, cinnamon and cinnamon from India and Southeast Asia. Pepper, rich in variety, has everything.

The second half of the 19th century was the peak period of the development of Dutch windmills. At that time, there were about 9,000 large and small windmills distributed in the Netherlands. After the Second World War in the 20th century, the rapid development of industrial technology made windmills lose their former role. Today, the Dutch windmill has withdrawn from the stage of history and is listed as a monument.

The "Windmill Guardian" in a small Dutch village

Windmills symbolize the national industrial culture of the Netherlands. The “Kinderdijk Windmills” near Rotterdam have also been designated as a world cultural heritage by UNESCO. At the same time, the windmills have also formed a deep friendship with the Dutch people, and they are reluctant to say goodbye to the windmills. , so the role of “Windmill Guardian Messenger” came into being.

Take the small village of Oerle in the south of the Netherlands as an example. This small village has a long tradition of grain processing. There has been a windmill since 1300, used to grind grain for the residents of the surrounding villages. The ancient windmills have been turning with the wind for hundreds of years, witnessing the development of history and the changes of the village, and have become the symbol of the small village of Oerle.

In 1932, the windmill was replaced by a modern local flour mill, and the windmill was dismantled accordingly. Residents in the village have never forgotten the help that the windmill has brought to their ancestors in history, and in order to prevent this traditional skill and culture from dying out with the passage of time, in 1987, the village rebuilt a windmill. Named Sint Jan. The main part of the windmill grinder and the octagonal stone structure come from the abandoned windmills of Leezen and Vught respectively, and the rest are built later. On “National Windmill Day” in 1991, the windmill in the small village of Oerle was completed and commissioned.

Until now, the Sint Jan windmill still maintains its daily operation twice a week. The fresh “windmill noodles” produced by the grinder are bought by local villagers, and all the income is used for the repair of the windmill. The operation of the windmill and the work of grinding flour are done by Jop, a 20-year-old young Dutch volunteer who lives in the small village of Oerle. He also completed the two-year “windmiller” training and officially became Sint Jan’s successor. It is this kind of inheritance that makes this ancient windmill technology continue in modern times

The whole people join the windmill protection

Founded in 1923, the “Dutch Mill Association” is a charity organization dedicated to the protection and repair of windmills and watermills. The former Queen of the Netherlands, Beatrix, is the patron of the association and has participated in many important events related to windmills. You can see her figure in all of them. As the organizer of the annual “Windmill Day” event in the Netherlands, the “Dutch Mills Association” also actively carries out other publicity activities about Dutch windmills among the people. By establishing websites, publishing books, and writing children’s publications, the public can better understand the many aspects of windmills. kinds of uses. They are also top experts in windmill technology, providing professional consulting services for windmill maintenance, reasonable layout of windmills and the surrounding natural environment, etc.

In order to continue to inherit the windmill skills, it is also a very important and arduous task to find, train and evaluate “windmill craftsmen” (molenaar) like Jop. These craftsmen not only need to know how to run the windmill, but also learn how to repair the windmill to a certain extent. At present, there are about 1,200 “windmill makers” in the Netherlands, most of whom are volunteers, and about 400 of them take running and repairing traditional windmills as their full-time jobs.

With the joint efforts of all walks of life in the Netherlands, there are now a total of about 1,050 windmills and 500 waterwheels have been preserved. Gradually fading away from the brilliance of history, these cultural “witnesses” who accompany the Dutch in their fight against nature still need more attention and maintenance from young people, so as to pass on the culture of this traditional industry.

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