Orange color sentiment… nothing screams more Dutch than this, doesn’t it?
Nowadays it’s impossible to watch an international (soccer) game without staring at a sea of orange dressed people. Where does it come from and when did those soccer fans become so utterly ridiculous leaving the rest of the world gobsmacked?
The history of orange
Sorry guys but I’m afraid we have to go Dr. Who on this. So step into the TARDIS and let the journey begin. First stop 1544 (pfff, I hope it is not going to be that kind of article…).
1544 is the date that Willem, son of Willem de Rijke, at the age of eleven inherited the principality of orange and automatically became ‘Prince of Orange’. This principality, or princedom, was located in France.
With the principality Willem also inherited vast estates in the low countries which are now known as The Netherlands and Belgium. As Prince of Orange, Willem also became the founder of the branch ‘House of Orange-Nassau’ (which, by the way, is the official name of our Royal family).
In those days, the French name ‘Orange’ became ‘Oranghien’ which later became ‘Oranje’ which is the Dutch word for … Orange. Makes sense right?
And so the little town of Orange,with only 30.000 inhabitants these days, became responsible for the colour the Dutch love to dress themselves in. I wonder if they are aware of that.
Ok, this explains our connection to the color orange. But when did the madness get to us?
Let’s jump forward and set the timer to flower power central: 1966.
A reporter called Marnix Koolhaas discovered that this was the year the so called ‘orange legion’ was born. Fellow Dutchmen Art Schenk and Kees Verkerk were busy dominating the speed skating sport and because of their successes loads of people wanted to see their victories, even in other countries.
To be able to meet this demand, the Dutch Railway organised special trips to speed skating championships in Norway, Sweden and Germany. This is the first recording of a large crowd following their sport hero(s). However, those people did not wear any orange clothing so the name ‘orange’ legion is not applicable yet.
Are you still with me? Don’t despare, we’re nearly there.
Combining it all
The year is 1968 and the world watches Art and Kees wearing orange berets on the podium. Fun fact, these berets were made in Norway, Hollands biggest opponent at speed skating. The Dutch viewers liked these berets very much and from 1971 our legion finally became orange when almost every Dutch spectator wore an orange beret during all major speed skate events.
So, the speed skating fans are responsible for the creation of the orange legion but it wasn’t until 1974 the Dutch spectators started to wear orange at soccer matches.
From there the legion evolved towards the dubious highlight as shown in the first picture.
Shall we ever overcome this mental malfunction? I guess not and frankly I hope we never do. In my opinion it’s quite harmless and it brings a bit of camaraderie with it.
See you next time.