The 3 October Vereeniging Leiden (October 3rd Association of Leiden) revealed this year’s theme for commemorating the Siege of Leiden (1573 – 1574): Water & Fire.
Chairman Guido Marchena, explained the choice for this theme:
‘’On October 3rd we celebrate and commemorate the fight for freedom. The never-ending struggle for this outcome is symbolised by the elements of water and fire – the greatest forces of nature, both capable of good and evil, and complete opposites of one another. Where would humanity be without fire? And, where would it be without water? Water and fire are always present in our art - through film, literature, and visual arts. Water and fire represent nourishment and life, as well as conflict and destruction. Water and fire embody the contradictions in life’’.
About the 3rd of October, Leidens Ontzet
During the Eighty Years’ War (1621 – 1648), Leiden was besieged twice by Spanish troops. The supply chains were cut off, and no one was allowed to leave or enter the city – which led to famine and disease killing a third of the population of 18.000.
Eventually, Dutch Prince William of Orange had the dikes breached, leading to the Spaniards being driven out by rising waters. The ‘’geuzen’’ – or, the irregular army of Orange - then entered the city through the Vliet River, and handed out herring and white bread.
Meanwhile, an orphan named Cornelis Joppensz stumbled upon a deserted Spanish camp and came out with a pot full of food, the so-called ‘’hutspot’’ – a typical Dutch dish of onions, carrots, and mashed potatoes.
The 2nd and 3rd of October are days still celebrated today with herring, hutspot, and white bread, and the October Festival always draws huge crowds to celebrate the relief of the city – Leidens Ontzet.