Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Blues Are Still Blue

Die Blauwe Koorts
The Blue Fever

"50 Ways to Leave Your Lover" is an old song by Paul Simon. "50 Ways to Call Each Other" could be the perfect slogan for the 50th (hey!) anniversary of Les Schtroumpfs / The Smurfs. Do you know what we are talking about?
Synopsis. In 1958 a weird bunch of blue white capped inhabitants of mushrooms makes its first appearance on a comic magazine. The "blue somethings" were a creation of the Belgian cartoonist Pierre Culliford, widely known as Peyo. In a short while these little creatures became one of the most popular cartoon almost everywhere in the world.
While the term "Smurf" survives in Belgium, Holland, Norway, Russia, Bulgaria and Estonia, several countries chose to name the Blues in a different way. Sometimes it's just a small reinterpretation such as

Schlumpf (German), Smyrff (Welsh), Smurffi (Finnish), Smølf (Danish), Smerf (Polish) or Estrumpfe (Portuguese).

While other times the name has nothing to do with the original one. For instance we have

Pitufo (Spanish), Puffo (Italian), Hupikék Torpikék (Hungarian), Pottoki (Basque), Barrufet (Catalan), or Dardas (Hebrew). The Hungarian version is definitely my favorite one. For those who are interested 藍色小精靈 (pronounced lán sè xiǎo jīng líng) is the Smurf's Chinese name.

Ok, let's stop copying and pasting from Wikipedia, right now.
As you may see above, Dutchmen respected Smurfs leaving their name untouched even if Peyo was a French speaking man and not a Flemish. This is what I call tolerance. But that wasn't enough.
A few weeks ago I met some giant sized Smurfs in The Hague. In that occasion I wondered what may take a couple of adult men to wear a blue smurf costume spending a whole afternoon waving at children, being kidded by youngsters and shot by nostalgic parents in their forties. Perhaps the Smurf Solution is better than acting as a Santa Claus' elf in a shopping mall or as a Taco in the corner of a windy street, and yet I couldn't understand Them.
These Lowlands are still a rich and healthy country after all. Here finding a decent non-humiliating job is supposed to be easy. And yet those Dutchmen wore a smurf costume. There's only one possible explanation. They liked it. Quoting Roxette, it must have been love. And it's not over now. They haven't lost it somehow.

Am I wrong? I don't think so. Please have a look below.
AMSTERDAM, WEDNESDAY 12 MARCH 2008 The Smurf fever that has gripped the Netherlands since mid-February is finally burning itself out. The last 6 million of the 29 million blue plastic creatures that supermarket Albert Heijn has been doling out for every €15 spent will be delivered to stores Thursday. They will certainly be all gone before the end of the promotion on 24 March, said a spokesperson for Albert Heijn.
(courtesy of

29 millions blue plastic creatures!
And 3 of them are currently in my kitchen marching on the microwave. Grote Smurf is the red capped Robespierre of these little apparently harmless Sans culottes! All this wasn't supposed to happen. It's just because of my talent for misunderstandings. In fact for a while I didn't understand the way it goes with Smurfs. I was therefore the perfect target for capitalist marketing. Paying my food I noticed that the cashier told me something like "Schmoorv?" but each time I guessed it was the Dutch word for bag.
"Ja! Ja! Ja!" I used to nod vigorously.
And each time They gave me a small packet the size of a plum. The camouflaged Smurf.
Such a shame I won't complete the collection, while hundreds of thousands of Dutchmen will.

1 comment:

vicky said...

Haha, that made!? I have to stop reading that site.

The ads everywhere were really misleading. I thought it was going to be a schtroumpf stuffed toy and lost interest when I found out they were tiny, plastic figurines. Also the fact that you needed to spend 15 euro didn't help either.