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Bewitched in Oudewater

BY ABBY

sunny 19 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

Ben's Aunt Rina, Cousin Els, Jaco and us

Ben's Aunt Rina, Cousin Els, Jaco and us

Today being our last full day in Holland, we decided to finish it the way we started, by a last visit to Tante Rina, Els, Jaco and Igor. We showed up just before lunch and were able to have some cake and drinks in the back garden, as summer was finally showing itself again. We talked about work, summer plans and the rest of our trip, as well as just regular catching up. After our little chat we were taken on another tour by our three hosts (Igor stayed behind), to the town of Oudewater. Our first stop was the Witches Weighhouse, which, as you probably guessed, is the place where people used to be weighed.

Els and Jaco

Els and Jaco

I learned a lot at the museum, as my previous knowledge on witches had consisted of only reading a short book a few years back about Salem. It was believed that witches weighed considerably less that humans (proportionate to their size), so this was a common practice for determining if the accused was really a witch or not. Back then, if you were a reasonable weight for your size you were given a certificate showing that you were unable to be accused, as you had been proven innocent. Another way that people were tried was by tying up their hands and feet and throwing them into the river. If the person floated, they were a witch, and were burned or executed in some other manner. If they sunk, they were retrieved (hopefully before they drowned), and were not charged with witchcraft.

Getting Weighed at the Witch Museum

Getting Weighed at the Witch Museum

Being accused of witchcraft was quite common, as people didn't need to base their rumor on much to get it started. Once one person believed it, it was very hard to get your name cleared. This is why many people came to Oudewater. Getting your certificate was the only way to have your name officially cleared, and to have a life back in your town again. These certificates would cost money, but people would pay whatever the price, or else they would be killed, or have to live the rest of their life as an outcast, having everything that went wrong in their town be blamed on them. Oudewater became famous for their scales, and certificates. But all of the people that were weighed here were proven innocent, as the people who ran the scales refused to take part in the beliefs that other people had. Oudewater then became the only place where you could get an official certificate, as it was seen to be the most honest weighhouse. The original scales were still here, and we were allowed to be weighed on them. I went first, and I was unaware that after they weighed you they would say your weight out for everyone in the room to hear, but I'll let you all guess away on your own. After this, my Dad and Jaco were the only ones who went. None of us were charged with witchcraft and were all awarded a certificate, free of charge.

Ben's Aunt Rina takes us out for Lunch

Ben's Aunt Rina takes us out for Lunch

After the museum we were treated to a cafe lunch in a large square in the sun, which was then followed up by some ice cream. This concluded our visit, however, as it was getting later into the afternoon and we were leaving the next day, we said our goodbyes and many kisses were exchanged. All four of us enjoyed our day immensely, and knowing that we have to leave Holland makes me more excited to come back.

Posted by KZFamily 12:33 Archived in Netherlands Tagged family netherlands holland witches oudewater

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Comments

13:00 pst 06/06/2013
Great write-up Abby and I see your Mum chickened out in the weigh in not because she was worried about being declared a witch but they would call out her weight / lol :)

by RobBar

What a different experience Abby, and you were so brave to go first. I knew you would become a "certified" non-witch. Was there any doubt?

by Helen Koning

Dear Abby, your report of the trip to Oudewater brought up some nice memories. When I was about your age I too was weighed on that scale. They did not make too much about that witches story. These scales were also used to weigh cheese when the farmers brought their cheese to the market. Some of these scales were still in use when I was a kid.
When I was there, Oudewater celebrated its 800th anniversary. I think that the place where you had lunch used to be a canal. Many more cities filled in canals in the city to create more room. These canals were used to transport freight in the past. Opa

by G Koning

Kudos to the people of Oudewater who resisted a barbaric practice. It took a lot of courage to go against the Church in those days.

I notice you're like Hobbits with your first lunch and second lunch...

by Jane1

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