Dutch word for wooden shoes or clogs. They are the traditional footwear of poor Dutch peasants and laborers. Nowadays, they are mostly worn to entertain tourists, especially if you see them being worn by someone under 80 who is in traditional dress.

On the countryside, however, some peasants still wear them. Another fairly popular option is a klomp that has a wooden sole, but a leather top. We have a pair of those, and they do well for garden work. Because of the thick wooden sole, they are very noisy, and heavy to walk around in. However, they are far more comfortable than klompen with a wood top.

Klompen are made of poplar or willow wood, because it is soft and cheaply available. You first start with a block of wood the rough size of the klomp and then you chop it into the rough outside form of the klomp. A master craftsman can do this in 10 strokes. This form is then refined, and a hole is drilled in the place where the foot is supposed to go. Then, you create the space where the foot will be. Making it anatomically sound is the hardest part. Finally, you cut the outside in the final desired form perhaps with some ornamental cuts They are traditionally painted yellow, with a red motif. Because the wood used is soft, the sole of klomp can wear remarkably quickly, particular on abrasive surfaces such as pavement.

Klompen look uncomfortable, and actually, they are, especially the ones with a wood top. They are traditionally worn with very thick socks made of wool, often more than one pair, so take this into account when buying, if you intend to actually wear them, that is. They are also very cold, another reason to wear the socks.

A chief advantage of klompen is that they are remarkably sturdy, at least as suitable for taking punishment as steel-toed leather shoes. This is one of the reasons that they are not entirely gone yet, combined with the fact they are still cheap, about 15 euros at time of noding. You won't find decent shoes for that money.

In summary, the klompen tradition in the Netherlands is dying, but not quite dead yet, and I don't think it will be for some time. The klompen you, as a tourist, are likely to see are worn just to entertain you, but in the countryside, where you probably won't come, people still wear them for real.

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