In this video Yolande Hisgen (Direct Dutch Institute) talks about the origin of the Dutch word ‘vrij’.
On the fifth of May the Dutch celebrate the liberty they achieved in 1945 when the occupying Nazi’s were defeated. In 2021, the celebrations continue. The Dutch call this day ‘bevrijdingsdag’ (liberation day). Yet for many people it is not a VRIJE DAG ( a holiday). Every five years it is an official holiday. In 2025, May fifth will be a day when all of us will be free of work.
VRIJ, VRIJHEID (freedom), BEVRIJDING (liberation)…
VRIJ is one of the oldest Dutch and English words. It occurs in the first complete Dutch recorded phrase. This phrase dates back to the eighth century: ‘maltho thi afrio lito’ ‘ik zeg je: ik laat deze slaaf vrij’ (I declare to you: I am letting this serf free). This was the official phrase a nobleman used to say when he liberated his serf or slave according to the Frankish Salic or Salian law.
So, the first and foremost meaning of VRIJ is ‘unbound’, ‘on one’s own’, ‘not in servitude’. Let’s hope that there will be many BEVRIJDINGSDAGEN (liberation days) in the future all over the world.
This is an excerpt from the original Word of the Day ‘VRIJ’, published in 2014
Music: ‘Trees heeft een Canadees‘ door De Kornuiten