About the Netherlands

Wooden shoes - really?

Are Dutch iconic symbols real or not?

The iconic Dutch wooden shoe or clog is called a "klomp" in Dutch, a word that sounds almost as as cluncky as the footware it describes. A klomp is produced from a single, solid block of wood from the willow or poplar tree, which yields a light type of wood that can easily carved. Original clogs (plural in Dutch: "klompen") were hand-carved, but nowadays the heavy work is done by intricate machines that can chisel out a full wooden shoe in a matter of minutes.

Contrary to popular belief, most Dutch people don't use clogs anymore, and the only group of people that still wear them are rural workers. But don't be too quick to dismiss this clunky piece of unfashionable footware. Klompen are actually quite convenient. They are very easy to slip in and out of, they are surprisingly light , comfortable, warm and healthy.

The European Union even gave the traditional all-wooden Dutch clogs a CE trademark as safety shoes. They can withstand almost any penetration (including sharp objects and concentrated acid and are actually safer than steel-capped protective shoes in some circumstances, as the wood cracks rather than dents in extreme accidents, allowing easy removal of the clog.

Clogs are even used in several different styles of dance. An important feature of the traditional "klompendans" is the loud slapping of the clogs against the floor, like a precursor to the modern jazz tap dance. But most of the approximately three million pairs of "klompen" that are sold each year are not used for dancing or as safety footware: they are purchased and exported by tourists as souvenirs. They make a nice ornamental object and - another good use -and can be hung from a wall, to be used as a flowerpot.