Vappu in the Netherlands Today Finns are celebrating Vappu. Not only in Finland. For Finns abroad it is also a special day. The Finnish Association in the Netherlands always celebrates Vappu with great enthusiasm. Just like Juhannus and independence day. For the Dutch people the first of may was always less important I am sorry to say. The reason was that between 1948 and 2013, the 30th of April was Queen's day in the Netherlands. The 30th of April was Queen Juliana's birthday and when she stepped down (in 1980) her daughter Beatrix continued the tradition. A smart move because she was born on the 31st of January. A cold day, even in the Netherlands.

bitterballenFor the Dutch in Finland celebrating Queen's day was not easy. After all the 30th is Vappuaatto. No services available after 18:00, so our embassy usually threw a party a couple of days before hand. No problem for many local Dutchies. Free drink, cheese, bitterballen and herring. A good preparation for Vappu!

In 2013 Queen Beatrix stepped down on her last Queen's day. It was then decided that King's day would be on King Willem-Alexander's birthday (27th of April). In Finland this is veteran's day. So both countries had a reason to put the flag in top this week. I suppose that will continue for some time to come although you never when a King kicks the bucket. Veteran's day is important day. Veteran's day is in the Netherlands on last Saturday of June (It used to be on the birthday of Prince Bernard – 29th of June).

The Netherlands remembers the dead of the second world war (and other conflicts we were engaged in) on the 4th of may. The flag goes half down and at 20:00 we observe two minutes silence. Radio and TV stop broadcasting. Trains stop wherever they are. Traffic stops wherever it is. It is a kind of holy moment in the Netherlands. It's like the world stops turning.

After such a serious moment there can only be a party. The 5th of may is party time. This is day that the Netherlands was liberated from German occupation. This is day when came an end to a terrible hunger winter. Flags out!! Rock concerts in every major town! Dance parties everywhere! On the 5th of may the Netherlands celebrates it's freedom much like the Finns celebrate Vappu. We both have our special days this week. Cherish them!!!


gallowsEvery time someone commits a hideous crime I hear calls to hang 'm high or something other to that effect. People can be blood thirsty animals when a crime is committed. Personally I feel out of my depth in such cases. I feel empathy for the victim and the family of victim. Naturally, I would say, but also with the perpetrator. I would like to know hän's side of the story. Too much empathy. I would not be a good judge. As a judge you have to be objective. But what kind of standards would you apply. I lay out two cases with two kinds of judges:

Case A: A woman has killed her spouse after a year of being beaten up by him.

Case B: A man has parked his car repeatedly in front of ambulance exit.

Judge Max Reasonable Revenge says: In case A the woman needs to be hanged because she causes the death of another. That's something society cannot allow. In case B the man gets a 1000 euro fine, because it's a repeated offense.

Judge Min Damage to Society says: In case A the woman will not kill again because the incentive to do so is removed. To deter others from killing casually she gets a prison sentence. In case B the man should be hanged. His behavior will one day cause the death of someone who needs medical care fast. Moreover letting him off the hook will invite others to do the same.

The first judge tries to exact revenge proportionally to the deed being done. Hän might take mitigating circumstances into account, but that does not take away the fact hän has an eye for an eye philosophy.

The second judge tries to avoid similar crimes in the future. To hän it is essentially is a matter of minimizing the impact of crime on society.

These are simple text book examples. I am sure everyone gets taught them in law school, but for myself I never got a clear picture until I saw a BBC program with the examples above. (If you asking me for a source I am sorry, it must have been at least 20 years ago). It is easy demand revenge, but when the consequence is that the woman should be hanged we feel that the latter judge is right. However that would also imply that hän would hang us if we ever parked our car wrong (in spite of us having the best possible reasons). These law philosophy have conflicting outcomes. A judge always balances between them. Revenge versus the chance of repetition and the damage that it causes. That's why I am glad I am not in that seat. I would not know how to judge.