The Netherlands is famous for its windmills. In the early days, windmills in The Netherlands served many purposes. The most important one was pumping the water out of the lowlands, keeping the land dry and diverted it to the area beyond the dikes for farming.
Due to its low position (the Netherlands, Nether means low) and flat structure, this country has no lack of wind, strong winds. The Dutchies knew how to profit from the wind. Dutch windmills are good example of how the people here have been able to regulate the drainage, keeping the land dry and by doing so, shaping and adjusting their landscape for the seemingly Dutch eternal struggle against water.
This is a windmill in Openlucht Museum in Arnhem.
Other purpose of windmills beside pumping the water is grinding material (wheat, grain, mustard, copper, woods etc.). Here and there, there are windmills who are still in operation, grinding assortments of different flours. In the modern Dutch landscape you see more and more wind turbines that generate clean and green wind energy.
What does a windmill say?
Today there are more than 1000 windmills in the Netherlands. A windmill operator is called Molenaar, from Molen (mill). A miller lives with his family in the windmill. A miller sets the wicks in various positions to send a message.
Here is the explanation of windmill wicks messages.
Pic is courtesy of windhond.nl
This joy position shows that the miller is happy. Mostly millers use this to let the world know that a baby is born.
When someone in the family or royal family passed away, the miller set the wick in mourning position.
Korte rust Short pause
Sometimes a miller rests for a couple of days. He displays this by setting the short pause stand.
Lange rust Long pause
The long pause position means that the miller is on vacation for a couple of weeks.
By calamities in the neighbourhood the miller uses this emergency stand for example a huge fire. In the old days, this stand required people to come to help.
Feeststand Celebration position
This stand is only used for rare occasions, such as a wedding. A number of windmills locked the wicks in this position to celebrate King Willem Alexander’s crowning in April 2013. The feast joy was visible by the orange garlands, ribbons and mini flags pinned on the wicks. Recently I have spotted a windmill in this celebration position during the Giro d’ Italia’s start in Gelderland province last month.
Can’t get enough of windmills in this tiny country? Read 10 things you should know about Dutch windmills.