[Reading level: C1 – Advanced]
When winter is gloomy – particularly during Covid – cold and ice bring relief and joy to the Netherlands, where a passion for outdoor skating is embedded into the culture.
Historic winter weather – Mùa đông lịch sử
A land synonymous with winter activities like ice skating, the Netherlands welcomes cold weather. However, over the past few decades, climate change has made severe winters increasingly rare, much to the dismay of locals from Maastricht to Harlingen who want to don their ice skates and take to the country’s frozen ponds, rivers and canals.
So, when a major cold snap does come – as one has recently, with the Netherlands’s first major snowstorm in a decade – the cold and ice are embraced with widespread joy.
The first ice – Những mảng băng đầu tiên
After a significant temperature drop, as low as -20C, the Netherlands can turn into an ice-skating paradise within a few days. Puddles, lakes, ditches and canals freeze over, and hundreds of thousands of skating enthusiasts brave the cold and head out into nature. While an ice thickness of 7cm is generally considered safe for skating, many can’t wait and take to the ice before it’s fully formed, despite warnings not to go out on thin ice.
A culture built on skating – Nền văn hóa được hình thành trên bộ môn trượt băng.
The Dutch enthusiasm for skating dates back centuries, though its origins are rooted more in practicality than recreation. “The connection between The Netherlands and ice skating goes back to the year 800AD,” said Dutch skating historian Marnix Koolhaas. The English word “skate” is derived from the Dutch word “schaats”, which some believe is linked to “shank bone” and refers to how skate blades were initially made out animal bones. Centuries later, wood was substituted for bone, and in the 1500s the first iron skates were manufactured.
“Before the era of cars and trains, ice skating in wintertime meant a physical reduction in distance,” said sports historian Jurryt van de Vooren. “It was mainly used as a means of transport by poorer people, starting since the late Middle Ages. For example, farmers brought their products to the market on skates. Nowadays, skating has become only recreational.”
Better when outdoors – Vui hơn khi ở ngoài trời
For many Dutch people, the love for ice skating is always bubbling below the surface and gets reactivated the moment an opportunity for outdoor skating arises.
“There are indoor rinks, but that’s not nearly as special as natural ice,” said ice skating enthusiast Kees van Unen. “Ice skating in nature is about being outside, about freedom. And not only does the ice offer a different perspective on our landscape and scenery, it also takes you to earlier stages in life. For example, in this village of Schermerhorn in the West Friesland region, I skated many times as a little boy. I remember those times well, because it just didn’t happen that often.”
Typical Dutch – Một nước Hà Lan điển hình
If anything offers a sense of Dutch nostalgia in winter, it’s a pop-up shop for snacks and hot drinks. The concept of “koek & zopie” (cookies & drinks), where ice skaters can warm up and recharge, dates to the 17th Century. Originally, the drinks served were alcoholic (a mixture of beer, rum, eggs and cinnamon, among other things), but nowadays there are family-friendly options available such as hot chocolate.
Social distancing – Giãn cách xã hội
The Dutch government does not prohibit ice skating during the ongoing pandemic, given the activity’s important historical and social significance. However, it recommends that skaters keep a 1.5m distance and strictly follow Covid rules. If places get too crowded, it advises skaters to leave the crowded area immediately, which isn’t too big of an ask.
It’s such a joy to be able to go out and go ice skating again, especially with the current lockdown in the country. Everyone seems relieved we can focus on something fun and positive for a change,” explained ice skater Lisa Honing. “I’m not too concerned about the risk of contamination. We’re all outside, and during ice skating you keep your distance anyway.”
Frozen canals – Những kênh rạch đóng băng
In cities, where temperatures are slightly warmer compared to the countryside, it often takes a little longer for the water to freeze over and options to skate are more limited. But in places like Rotterdam (pictured), locals skate right on the canals.
“It’s just in front of our doorstep, which is perfect for my two daughters,” said Annemarlijn Aalstein. “They are six and three years old and are both ice skating for the first time in their lives. If they get tired, we can go right inside for a hot chocolate.”
Enjoying the most of it – Tận hưởng từng chút một.
City or country, the Dutch will find a way to skate. “When I knew there would be ice skating possible in the Netherlands [recently], I immediately took the rest of the week off from work,” said Nico Stam. “My colleagues had nothing but [understanding], as they know how much I love ice skating. I’ve been doing it all my life and I take every opportunity to get on the ice.”
synonymous /sɪˈnɑː.nə.məs/ [C2] (adj): đồng nghĩa
don /dɑːn/ (v): mặc
severe /sɪˈvɪər/ [B2] (adj): khắc nghiệt
dismay /dɪˈsmeɪ/ [C2] (v): làm ai đó mất tinh thần, mất hết sự can đảm
significant /sɪɡˈnɪf.ə.kənt/ [B2] (adj): đáng kể
embrace /ɪmˈbreɪs/ [C1] (v): đón nhận
enthusiast /ɪnˈθuː.zi.æst/ (n): người đam mê
form /fɔːm/ (v): định hình
enthusiasm /ɛnˈθjuːzɪaz(ə)m/ (n): sự hăng hái
practicality /ˌpræk.tɪˈkæl.ə.t̬i/ (n): tính thực tế
skate blade (n): lưỡi trượt
initially /ɪˈnɪʃ.əl.i/ [B2] (adv): ban đầu
substitute /ˈsʌb.stə.tuːt/ (v): thay thế
late Middle Ages (n): Hậu kỳ Trung Cổ
bubble below the surface (idiom): sục sôi, chỉ trực để tuôn trào
rink /rɪŋk/ (n): sân trượt
perspective /pɚˈspek.tɪv/ (n): góc nhìn, cái nhìn
nostalgia /nɒsˈtæl.dʒə/ [C2] (n): sự hoài cổ, hoài niệm
cinnamon /ˈsɪn.ə.mən/ (n): quế
ongoing /ˈɒŋˌɡəʊ.ɪŋ/ [C2] (adj): đang diễn ra
relieved /rɪˈliːvd/ [B2] (adj): khuây khỏa
contamination /kənˌtæm.əˈneɪ.ʃən/ (n): ô nhiễm
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