Fishery Day Observance in Spakenburg

Spakenburg wooden boats and fish catch ready for smoking

Don’t we oftentimes look far beyond the horizon for many exciting things to see and miss what is right under our noses?

This would seem the case with me for having been to other places to witness interesting cultural phenomena and overlooked what was simply amazing in a place that is even just cycling distance from home.

On this post, let me take you to Spakenburg, a fishing village which to this day still clings to age-old traditions and way of life. Many of its older generation of women for instance, still go about their daily lives wearing traditional costumes. Sundays are still strictly observed as day of obligation to the Lord so apart from going to church three times, all establishments are closed for business and typical Sunday activities like football games are forbidden.

Considering that we’ve lived here in Amersfoort for almost seven years, I was never aware of the Fishery Day observance in nearby Spakenburg. Thanks to a tip from our friend Tammy, we were finally able to witness this wonderful spectacle last 1st of September (Fishery Day is every first Saturday of September so we learned).  Wooden fishing boats had the sails on their masts raised and the local men, women and children were dressed in traditional costumes. (Normally only the older Spakenburg women wear the traditional costume on daily basis.) Every aspect of the traditional way of life here was out in the open and it was amazing to see how this village is able to keep the traditions alive and well to this very day.

Raised sails on the wooden masts

The mayor and the women of Spakenburg


Thick woolen socks that go well with the wooden clogs “klompen”

The dry dock at the harbor

Spakenburg women

Francesca and me with the Spakenburg ladies

Spakenburg children

Spakenburg girl

Fish auction house

Father and daughter with smoked mackerel bought at the auction

Smoking of fish is a traditional way of preserving them in the old days but is still very much in practice to this day

My little girl playing with the fish net

Spankenburg ladies and Spakenburg textiles

The traditional way of cleaning raw herring – head is removed as well as the bones then eaten with chopped onions and pickles

Spakenburg ladies


About Malou
I'm a mom to a five-year old little girl with interest in cooking, baking, traveling and photography. Castles and palaces are special favorites so when weather permits for a good walk on weekends, me, hubby and little girl are always out for a bit of adventure.

116 Responses to Fishery Day Observance in Spakenburg

  1. newsferret says:

    What an interesting post and each photograph tells it own lovely story. Many thanks for sharing.

  2. Thanks so, Malou, for an absolutely spectacular tour of Spakenburg and its great festival! Your images, as usual, are ultra-fine…what took me in is the first image of the boats, which look as if they are from some time way in the past.

    Thank you again, for showing all this fantastic beauty!

    • Malou says:

      Glad to know of your appreciation for this post. This is one lovely village which is just pleasant to explore with the age-old traditions alive and well and the display of their way of life is not meant as a come-on for tourism. ;-)

  3. avian101 says:

    Excellent post Malou! :)

  4. vanessagobes says:

    really enjoyed your pictures and story! thank you for sharing!!! :-)

  5. John says:

    Great photos, love the traditions. Glad to see your back. :)

  6. Ingrid says:

    Beautiful colors in all the photos!

  7. I don’t know much about you but i’m amazed by the way you are raising your daughter. You open her to the world with all those travels and visits you do, and at the same time, you let her dream and be the beautiful little princess of her own world, which is so important to a child. It’s such a smart approach and we definitely see how much you and your husband are devoted to your family.

    • Malou says:

      Thank you for such a very endearing comment. We are not actually very conscious of the image we have as a family except that what we do together as a family is what we love best. Sure we love to travel from time to time and at the same time, also give our little girl the space and time to enjoy her childhood. ;-)

  8. Barbara Backer-Gray says:

    This is great! I used to live in Eemnes, so not too far from Spakenburg. I took the bus from Eemnes to Baarn and from there I took the train to school every day, and I remember lots of Spakenburg women at the busstop, who were cleaning ladies for wealthy Baarn folks. I can’t imagine cleaning a house in those clothes, but they’re used to it.

    • Malou says:

      I heard that these ladies from Spakenburg are known for cleanliness, that they keep their houses spic and span. My neighbor has a cleaning lady from Spakenburg. ;-)

  9. Absolutely fascinating!
    Those tabard-typr tops are strange; unique.

  10. lanceleuven says:

    Wow, fascinating stuff. It’s amazing that they’ve managed to keep the tradition alive. Thanks for sharing.

  11. jelillie says:

    Beautiful pics. I hope to visit the sea when next I am in Holland!

  12. viveka says:

    Spakenburg – what a place … what a wonderful post again; Malou – the top photo is so stunning.
    Does the women always go dressed like that ..or was it just for the Fishery Day??? We eat a lot of smoked mackerel and fresh herrings in Sweden too. Thanks for bringing me along.

    • Malou says:

      There are over 300 older ladies who wear the traditional costume on a daily basis, Viveka. On this occasion, however, all locals down to children and even babies and toy dolls were dressed up in the traditional costume. ;-)

      • viveka says:

        How interesting – a bit like the Amish people…. Beautiful place. Wonderful post; Malou … alway a pleasure to visit your world.

  13. ddLynn says:

    What a lovely photo story! Thanks for the glimpse into this wonderful village and culture.

  14. Beautiful Malou – you really should have a “Love Button” on your site :-) I love it!

  15. Colline says:

    Interesting to look at these photos.

  16. Thank you for the tour, Malou. Your photos are always a joy.

  17. EllaDee says:

    Great images, and very interesting place. Living history and tradition so it’s not lost :)

  18. Michael Zoll says:

    Very good contribution!

    CU Michael

  19. BonMinou says:

    Fabulous! Now I want to go there and reachable from Amsterdam by public transport you say?
    Thanks for all your posts, they are all lovley.

  20. I didn’t think places like this still existed! You may just have found me the town I want to retire in! Wonderful pictures – as always :)

    • Malou says:

      They do but I must warn you that the people there are extremely religious. If you are not a local, it is not easy to navigate the culture. ;-)

  21. Always love seeing your photographs and how right you are about how easy it is to overlook what is right under our nose. Blessings to you and your family.

    • Malou says:

      Thank you, Joy. I try to go when I can but that is still just a few times in a year. I always enjoy the Saturday market atmosphere out there. ;-)

  22. Malou you always amaze me with your beautiful photos. Your little girl is growing so fast and is beautiful. I worked with lots of herring whilst living in iceland and there as well , many of the old preserving traditions are still practised and I love it. Thanks for sharing this beautiful post.

    • Malou says:

      Thank you. How do they eat herring in Iceland? The Dutch love them raw (preserved in salt) with lots of chopped onions.

      • Hello Malou
        They preserve them in barrels with spices like nutmeg, all spice, juniper berries and then lots of salt. They also do them with lots of onions and vinegar. They sit in the barrels for quite a long time and then they enjoy them on a very dense bread. I have been to Holland and eaten the herring there. Must admit I enjoy the Icelandic version much more as it is so flavorsome.

  23. What great traditional clothing and customs! Thank you for sharing, Malou!

  24. Jean says:

    I didn’t know Dutch fishing boats looked ike that. Hope you enjoyed your smoked fish.

    • Malou says:

      These fishing boats are from this particular place and according to the people we talk to, they are also pretty old, the most recent having been built over 50 years ago.

      I always love smoked fish as they’re always good. ;-)

  25. likeitiz says:

    Awesome! Thanks for taking us with you!

  26. sillyliss says:

    Very cool pictures and interesting to read about. :)

  27. You observation on seeing things close and near is a great insight! This little town where I live has so much, but so many of the people who have lived here all their lives don’t even know the gem that this place is. I love it and its history. On my garden blog I try to capture a little slice of the “heaven” that is here. Jack

    • Malou says:

      Human nature I should say. We set our vision too far into the horizon, forgetting the beauty right before our very eyes. ;-)

      Your garden blog is amazing!

  28. Looks like it was a fun festival. Love these local ones.

  29. Awww fun! I want to be there! HAHA

  30. I absolutely love it! Great post and amazing pictures. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful day. :)

  31. kulengkleng says:

    We zijn afgelopen augustus naar de Spakenburgsedagen geweest. We hebben ook een mooie dag gehad. Ik heb ook iets geschreven over onze ervaring in Spakenburg. Eindelijk weer een Filipina in Nederland met een mooie blog! Groetjes :-)

  32. deedeemallon says:

    What a collection of beautiful pictures! I esp. enjoy the traditional garb – the mixing of plaids with florals, in particular.

  33. marvelous post – so well captures things I know very little about! Love those boats…

  34. Jean says:

    You document this event very well. Thanks for letting us learn something interesting with many photos! Great that the locals still put on this event. Hopefully the next generation will continue to do so.

    • Malou says:

      Thank you, Jean. I guess this annual festivity is a way of keeping the younger generation in touch with their tradition that should remain alive and well. ;-)

  35. mrsdaffodil says:

    Lovely, clear photos. I especially like the one of your daughter with the fish nets.

  36. Too cool! Thanks for visiting MY blog, so I could find yours! ;)

  37. Wow the photos are quite cool, Did you suffer a language barrier at all there?

  38. justmusing says:

    Thank you. Its a beautiful post. thanks for sharing.

  39. edebock says:

    I have missed you these past three months, Malou! I hope all is well with you and your family and wish you a very Merry Christmas.

  40. vgag says:

    The photos are really evocative. And I love your daughter’s cheerful reaction to all these picturesque scenes and activities.

  41. Fantastic sails and wooden boats. It’s so nice to see another culture up close through your photos and words.

  42. What a BEAUTIFUL PLACE TO LIVE!!!! OH So many BOATS!!! How lucky you are.. And your photography is TOP NOTCH!!! What are you shooting on?

  43. Bron says:

    Malou! Where have you been? I hope everything is okay and you are well. I have nominated you for the Very Inspiring Blogger award. I’ve posted the details over at my blog:

    Congratulations and I look forward to your future updates! :)

    By the way, I particularly love the first photo on this post, what a beautiful view. Maybe you have some beautiful photos of the Netherlands in wintertime to share with us?

  44. I never thought laundry could be so beautiful ;)

  45. jeepnmom says:

    You have inspired me so I nominated you for the One Lovely Blog/Very Inspiring Blogger Award! You may visit my site,, for acceptance info and some badges. There are also links to some other very inspiring blogs! Have a great day!

  46. Love the photos – great selection of content as well as composition. Interesting for me as it’s a glimpse of my Dutch heritage.

  47. Java Girl says:

    Malou, where are you? I’ve missed your blogs and pictures! Hope you are well! Thinking of you!!

    • Malou says:

      Thanks for asking. Busy months with so many activities of the little girl from swimming to riding lessons. Add the play dates with classmates and friends too. ;-)

  48. Wonderful ! You’ve put in a lot of effort in this post, really like it !

  49. Lovely post and pictures. Jo

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