Most people who have heard of Gouda usually think of the famous cheese that derives from this small town in South Holland. Gouda is also famous locally for being the creators of the stroopwafel, a delicious crunchy wafer with caramel filling. What many people outside of the Netherlands don’t know, is about the festival Zotte Zaterdag (crazy Saturday).
Zotte Zaterdag is a medieval festival centered around former resident and local legend, Eramus. Eramus was a Dutch Renaissance humanist, catholic priest, social critic, teacher and theologian. One of his most famous works, Lof der Zotheid or Praise of Folly, is a satire on superstitions and other traditions of European society. In the introduction he tells the reader “why shouldn’t scholars have fun, as the rest of the population does”. It’s in this spirit that the day’s festivities al revolve around being silly and having a good time.
The Celebration is held once a year during fall, this year October 14th 2017. There is so much to see and do but here are some of the highlights.
- See the owls and falcons
Falconry in the Netherlands is an age old tradition. The country is known for their die-hard practitioners and they set up stands in which you can see their various birds of prey. Don’t be intimidated by the prospect of giant talons, the birds are well trained and there is plenty of staff that make this a family-friendly event.
- Seamstresses, Jewelry & Pottery makers
Step back in time and watch as silver is melted down over coals while a jewelry maker in medieval attire is hard at work. Learn how to make pottery or purchase hand knit clothing.
- Watch the procession
The town comes together to don their costumes and traditional instruments to form a procession that marches through the cobblestone streets. Young and old alike join in the fun. All the participants are committed to this tradition and stay in character the whole time.
- Sample the artesian delicacies
Cheese is delicious in Gouda and luckily there are plenty of free samples. You will also find delicious breads and sweets all sold to you buy vendors in medieval garb.
When we visited Gouda we were unaware of this must see festival, we just got lucky. The energy and effort that goes into the celebration are infectious. We will definitely return to this unique experience that stole our hearts. If you plan a Holland holiday in the Fall, travel back in time and experience Zotte Zaterdag.