But the surprising part about our return was the difference in level of care about the World Cup. When we left America, the pre-games had started, and notice barely registered as a blip on the American radar. We landed in the Netherlands, and it was like a giant canister of Tang had exploded over the whole country. There is a level of national pride that I've never seen here before - even with the excitement of a new king taking the throne last year - and it seems to be growing as the Dutch team has been winning.
It started with general decorating. For Koningsdag, you will see orange banners and assorted apparel for sale and up on certain houses, but for the World Cup, there are more people than you would expect participating. The house down the street that decorates seasonally is all oranged-out, but so is the house of the single guy that doesn't do anything at any time of the year. On game day, it's hard not to find someone wearing orange and clearing out of the work place or the grocery store to be in front of a screen in time for the start.
|Just two of many Hup Holland Hamsters, free at the grocery store|
with your purchase of 15 euro or more.
And in between, there's been hardly a lull in the enthusiasm as the grocery stores advertise some other new and exciting addition to your game-day celebration. To be sure, coming from a country where football involves a funny-shaped ball, oversized pads, and crash helmets, the whole thing is a bit fascinating to watch.
So far, I feel like you can't help but be in a good mood with all the jolly orange decorations and happy fans. We'll see how long those feelings last as the games progress, but in the meantime, we're enjoying getting to be part of the action.
Are you watching the World Cup? Is it a big deal to anyone around you?