Sunday, December 25, 2011

Prettige Kerstdagen! Merry Christmas!

The West Flemish priest (and poet and Father of the Flemish Movement) Guido Gezelle, nearly always had something so perfectly dead on to say. It may seem a stretch to incorporate him here, but since he did have a strong literary (and emotional) attachment to America (inspired by , he certainly has a stake in the Flemish Contribution to America.

Permit me to pass along this along to you:

Ik wense U:

Ik wense u een jaar, dat zacht als zijde is ;
Ik wense u een jaar, dat blank en blijde is;
Ik wense u een jaar, dat ver van krank is,
Een deugdelijk jaar zo breed als ’t lang is;
Ik wense u een jaar, dat als ’t voorbij is,
Een zalig jaar voor u en mij is.

- Guido Gezelle - "Jaarkrans" 1893
( I wish you a year that is as soft as silk;
I wish you a year that is bright and cheerful;
I wish you a year of endless good health;
A solid year that is as broad and long as it can be;
I wish you a year [which, when it is over, will be] a blessed year for you and for me.
- translation courtesy of Leo Norekens)

Lastly, since this is a day of joy, celebration, and at least occasional heavenly glances, please allow me one more Flemish reference to the Spirit of the Season.

Although he never visited America - and perhaps had zero ties with America - Ludwig van Beethoven was like yours truly the grandson of Flemish emigrants. Beethoven's Flemish origins were however from Antwerp, a port which has given more than its fair share of emigrants to America.

It seems, then, only fitting that since Beethoven's Ode to Joy is not only a popular Christmas tune but also the anthem of the European Union, that I wrap up with this.

Merry Christmas and to all of you my heartfelt wishes for a New Year with all the best to you humanly possible.

Prettige Kerstdagen & Gelukkig Nieuwjaar!

Copyright 2011 by David Baeckelandt. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without my explicit, written consent. Merry Christmas!


  1. Best wishes ! Hope to see many interesting posts here in 2012.

    Always a perilous undertaking, translating poetry. Especially Gezelle's 19th century West-Flemish, which today is sometimes hard to understand/interpret even to native Dutch speakers who are not all that familiar with the dialect of West-Vlaanderen. That said, your attempt is very creditable, with one benevolent remark:
    "I wish you a year [which, when it is over, will be] a blessed year for you and for me."

  2. Thank you very much Koen my good friend! I was guessing on that one so I very much appreciate the correction (which I will make shortly).

    My very best wishes to you and yours - and more substantial posts are in the queue as I type!

    Take care good friend!

  3. You give me too much credit with this update, David. Only the bracketed fragment was my humble suggestion, altogether a minor correction.