he initial focus of Lowlands-L was language—similarities and differences among
the North Sea Germanic languages and their offshoots. However, pretty much
at the outset it was apparent that language is inseparable from culture—“culture”
in the most general sense of the word. This is why we broadened
the following thirteen-odd years of Lowlands-L activities one of the most discussed
topics aside from language and history has been the cultural heritage of the
come as no surprise considering that we come together to compare related languages.
Language reflects our views of the world, and these views are largely conditioned
by our native traditions.
Most of the things we learned when we were children
stay with us for the rest of our lives, although they tend to make themselves
comfortable in the backs of our minds and sit there quietly most of the time
while we try to cope with today’s harsh realities. Among such things are
our basic codes of conduct, also traditional sayings that are meant to impart
basic wisdom, riddles,
and songs we
while sitting on someone’s lap or while playing games our forebears had played long before us, the mythical
figures and bugbears we feared in the dark, the lullabies someone sang
for us when we needed to feel safe and be tucked in before
drifting off into sleepy land. Do you remember your wonderment over old-time
implements and bric-à-brac you
relatives’ homes and the stories all of them came with, the genuine traditional
needlework, woodwork, metalwork and pottery someone once labored over, items
that are now being replaced by cheap knock-offs underpaid workers made somewhere
mass markets without knowing their stories and meanings? Do you remember what
it feels like when on special occasions you see people dressed up in the traditional
costumes of your native area: this dichotomy of dismissal as irrelevant on
the one hand and quiet pride and a sense of belonging on the other hand? I
for all of us to recall the sense of comfort
we get when once in
enjoy homemade traditional dishes that take us right back to early childhood,
to the faces and words of people we once shared meals with, people that have
passed on but somehow remain alive inside us.
If they don’t ignore
them, most publications deal with folk traditions and folk craft in detached,
academic or commercialized sorts of ways. Folk stories tend
published in edited forms with modernizing illustrations for the child of today,
parents keep them away from their children because of the violence some of
them contain. Few of us are familiar with their original versions and even
fewer of us are aware of the historical events such tales reflect as oral
literature of largely illiterate
populations. Folk songs and folk music are rarely presented authentically these
days. While there is nothing wrong with new interpretations, it is nice to
hear the original versions once in a while. At any rate, while they are still
known, original versions of folk stories, songs, music, dances and so forth
ought to be recorded
that future generations have access to them.
Of relevance are also those traditions
that long ago were imported from outside the Lowlands and have been adapted
to Lowlands culture, as well as Lowlands traditions that long ago were adopted
outside the Lowlands. This includes Lowlands-inspired traditions in former
Lowlands colonies outside Europe. It also includes specific Lowlands traditions
belonging to cultural substrata in places in which Lowlands languages are
fading or extinct, as Dutch now is in French Flanders and in formerly Dutch-speaking
America and Northern Brazil.
In the fourteenth year of Lowlands-L, we decided to make this type of information available to the worldwide
public. What you see here is a start to that.
Probably no one else captured ordinary
Lowlands people’s lives of eras past consistently as informatively, vividly and fascinatingly
as did the Renaissance painter Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1525–1569). For this reason the visual appearance of these pages has been designed
around several of his works.
Not only Lowlands-L members but anyone is
invited to participate in this effort to collect and display items belonging
to the Lowlands’ cultural heritage. Professional-level presentations are not expected but are
very much welcome. You are welcome to send us anything from a brief paragraph
to a full-length article,
in any language. Also invited are digitized photographs, drawings, paintings,
sheet music and sound recordings. Just please make sure there are no copyright
issues. All authors remain the copyright owners while permitting Lowlands-L to display their works here.
You are welcome to send us comments and/or to add works to this collection (with
a focus on the Lowlands). If you you are willing to do so, please drop
us a line under the subject line “Traditions” at lowlands.list(a)gmail.com (replacing (a) with @). And please provide your name (or write “Anonymous”)
your town and country. Please click here to read further details.
Thanks, and have fun learning and sharing!
Reinhard “Ron” F. Hahn
Co-Founder & Chief Editor,
June 24, 2008