Providence Christian College will celebrate Dutch American Heritage Day on November 16th to honor the heritage of the founders of Providence, the only Reformed Christian College on the West Coast.
“Our roots come out of numerous Reformed churches with large Dutch populations,” explains Providence President Dr. Jim Belcher. “Many of our founders, board members, current administrators and students share a Dutch heritage. In addition, the Dutch theologian Abraham Kuyper played an important role in shaping Reformed perspective and teaching. This is our day to celebrate and honor that heritage.”
Providentially, November 16 is also the exact date that the first meeting about starting the college was held around a kitchen table in Chino, CA. Fondly referred to as “Kitchen Table Day” at Providence, it is also fitting that those first visionaries of Providence were from largely Dutch communities. The owner of the kitchen table, Geoff Vanden Heuvel was recognized as a founder earlier this fall at the 10 year anniversary celebration. He said that he continues to gather around that very table with his grandchildren and children, three of which were graduates or employees of Providence.
To mark the day, students at Providence will be celebrating all things Dutch including wearing klompen, the traditional Dutch wooden clogs and eating stroopwafels, a Dutch treat made of wafers and caramel.
“There are a lot of Providence students with Dutch background”, notes Director of Enrollment Larissa Kamps, who herself has Dutch-American heritage. “Many of us grew up in places that held annual Tulip Festivals where we wore traditional Dutch costumes, performed in Dutch dances, and enjoyed the Dutch foods our grandmothers made”. Although most Providence students with Dutch heritage are second or third generation, there are also Canadian students at Providence who are first generation.
Students on campus will be learning about all things Dutch including some that might seem unusual but were imported to America and Canada by many Dutch immigrant farmers located in communities such as Lynden, WA, Orange City, IA, Grand Rapids, MI and Lethbridge, AB, Canada.
Here’s a few little known facts about the Dutch:
Dutch people love candy and sweets! They eat it for breakfast in the form of chocolate sprinkles on toast called hagelslag. Another Dutch candy that is a favorite for sharing with unsuspecting strangers is doublezout, a double salted black licorice that people either love or hate. Wilhelmina Peppermints are the most popular “church candy” for passing around on Sunday mornings.
The Providence Sea Beggars mascot, Watergeuzen in Dutch, comes out of Dutch history, of course. The Sea Beggars and captain Piet Hein won important sea battles that contributed to the independence of the Dutch Republic.
Dutch people have traditionally celebrated Christmas Day by focusing on the birth of Christ, while Sinterklaas Day, or St. Nicholas Day is celebrated on December 5 and focuses on the giving and receiving of gifts.
Wooden shoes are now most commonly used as souvenirs, but are still used in some places by farmers and gardeners because of their durability, ease of cleaning and waterproof nature.
Tulips are not native to the Netherlands which imported them from the Ottoman Empire. The Netherlands popularized them in the early 17th century and they are now the world’s largest producer and exporter of tulips.
Dutch American Heritage Day was proclaimed on November 16th in 1991 by President George Bush Sr. to annually celebrate the historic ties and mutual friendship between the Netherlands and the United States. Bush added that for more than 200 years the bonds between the United States and The Netherlands remained strong and constitute one of the longest unbroken diplomatic relationships with any foreign country. According to President Bush, this is an occasion to remember the many celebrated American leaders of Dutch descent which includes three U.S. Presidents: Martin Van Buren, Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin D. Roosevelt.