Why We Call Holland The Netherlands

Loren Snel is a Dutch exchange student in Linguistics, Literature and Journalism. She has come to Leeds to explore the UK’s promising (media) landscape but its rolling hills and absence of tulips left her culture shocked. She enjoys Pinot Gris, fancy restaurants, jogging and dancing to indie pop bands as long as the drummers are as good as the one she (temporarily) left in Holland. One day she hopes to be a career woman and a published author – because realism is for sissies.

Why do we call Holland the Netherlands? A question as old as the dawn of time. Or at least as old as the day someone said: “You know what? I think those hundred square metres of dried sea bed would make a great country.” If you have ever explored the Netherlands, Holland or just Amsterdam you have probably asked yourself this very question, some time between your second ‘spliff’ and the third red-lit window. Why does one country have two names and what do they signify? Please allow a native to clear this up.

Let’s go back in time. In the 1800s Dutch farmers were desperately looking for work. Since the upper and middle classes had decided soymilk was the future and suited their gluten free, sugar free and fun free diets, the milk industry had gone down the drain. Cows went on strike and farmers were left without work. When football was invented farmers saw a new opportunity for their cow pastures. Therefore, once international football games began years later, a catchier chant than the long-winded ‘the-Ne-ther-lands’ was needed. Dutch linguist, Professor Greg Pot, came up with the term ‘Holland’ from the Dutch word ‘hol’, which translates as ‘crazy’ and ‘anus’ and attached it to ‘land’. ‘Crazy anus land’ has proven to be so catchy that the Dutch still use it to date. They print it on t-shirts the colour of Oompa-Loompas and wear them for all international football matches.


Just kidding, it’s not that complicated. Rather, the Dutch government decided on the name change in the early 1900s when bite-sized boys in green hats and leotards kept burgling Dutch houses, flying into windows and shouting that they had found Neverland.

Nearly fell for that one? In fact, the real etymological reason is that Holland encompasses the two most important sub regions of the Netherlands. These regions are superior to the others since they have higher-level education, wealthier people, outstanding business connections and well-paid jobs. Holland is amazing and the Netherlands is just a pauper realm full of uneducated bum folk whose benefits are paid for by the hardworking people in Holland. Their only redeeming feature is that they’re reasonably good at rugby.

No, here’s the secret. ‘Holland’ is a brand. It’s a large-scale subliminal campaign for Hollister. The company bought all twelve Dutch provinces back when most European countries were trying to find solutions for their economic recession. Hollister saw an opportunity to spice up their image, trying to appeal to consumers that liked to #smokeweed and #doaprozzy. So far the campaign hasn’t opened up that new niche market yet but the Dutch economy is doing just fine.

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Seriously, let’s get this over with. Holland and the Netherlands are the same word spelt differently. Isn’t that obvious? Maybe you don’t understand the Dutch phonetic system, like you probably don’t understand the Irish one. the=h Neth=o er=ll (obviously) lands=land. The extra -s was cut off so as to simplify the spelling. Be grateful, you monolingual.

In all honesty, all of the above is false.

Should you really want to know the truth behind the small country with the double name go ahead and watch this video.

Loren Snel

Images courtesy of Loren Snel and Julia Collins

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