Special Erasmus Week to celebrate Desiderius Erasmus’s birthday in Erasmus Year

The unveiling of a monument by the house where Erasmus was born, the presentation of a special Erasmus game, the book ‘De boemerang van oorlog en geweld’ (Boomerang of war and violence) and a children’s conference: the programme for the annual Erasmus Week to celebrate Desiderius Erasmus’s birthday (28 October) is a very special one this Erasmus Year. And the ‘Lof der Zotheid’ badge will be awarded to philosopher Henk Oosterling. The Erasmus Week will run from Sunday 23 October to Sunday 30 October inclusive. This year’s theme is ‘What do you believe in?’

2016 is Erasmus Year. Not only because Erasmus was born in Rotterdam 550 years ago, but this writer, philosopher and humanist completed one of his major works five centuries ago too: a translation of the New Testament. And that’s why the theme of this year’s Erasmus Week is ‘What do you believe in?’ The annual Erasmus Week Programme, organised by the ‘Erasmus: A Rotterdam Icon’ Committee, includes a number of unusual features:

On Friday 28 October, Erasmus’s birthday, Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb and committee president Steven Lamberts will unveil the monument by the house where Erasmus was born on Grote Kerkplein next to the Laurenskerk church. The Committee held a competition for the best design of a monument to mark the house where Erasmus was born on 28 October 1466. The winning design by Diana de Graaf, Maaike Disco and Reinier de Gooijer is a free-standing wall of this house with a portrait of Erasmus on it. The portrait of Erasmus and the entire wall are made up of colourful majolica tiles comprising texts written by Erasmus, including proverbs from ‘Adagia’.

‘Lof der Zotheid’ badge

After unveiling the monument on 28 October, the ‘Lof der Zotheid’ badge will be awarded to this year’s winner. This prize is awarded to a person who has been of service to Rotterdam by working in line with Erasmus’s own philosophy of life. The badge will be awarded to Henk Oosterling this year. Mr Oosterling, who hails from Rotterdam, fits in perfectly with Erasmus’s philosophy of life in word and in deed.

He’s a versatile philosopher at Erasmus University Rotterdam, but he definitely isn’t someone who lives in an ivory tower! As the initiator of the Rotterdam Vakmanstad project to educate and train children in Rotterdam-Zuid, he’s given the city a great deal, especially with respect to upbringing and education. The focus here is on tolerance and forbearance. Mr Oosterling gets his message across to the public in his own inimitable ‘Rotterdam’ way. Previous badge winners included actress Loes Luca and lawyer Inez Weski. Adrie van der Laan, keeper of the Rotterdam Public Library Heritage Collection, will give the Lof der Zotheid Lecture in Rotterdam City Hall.


On Tuesday 25 October, a new game called ‘Switch’ will be presented. This is a game for young people aged between 10 and 14. The game makes the youngsters aware of how others – as well as themselves – would respond to certain situations such as bullying. They work together to find out the best course of action in such situations. You can only win if you’re able to put yourself in the other person’s place. And this fits in with Erasmus’s philosophy: he always considered what others would think of something first before voicing his own opinion. This game enables players to experience Erasmus’s philosophy personally in an active and light-hearted way and makes them realise that Erasmus’s values are still relevant for people today. Key words are dialogue, a balanced view, knowledge and humour on the themes of language, behaviour and religion.

‘Switch’ will be presented during one of the lectures for youngsters at Erasmus MC, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Scientists and scholars at Erasmus University and Erasmus MC will be giving lectures to young people during Erasmus Week.

Guided tours

Other attractions held during Erasmus Week include guided tours in the Wereldmuseum and a visit to the unique Erasmus Collection in Rotterdam Public Library. The week will be rounded off with the presentation of the Erasmus Special of REALmag – a magazine on identity, art and science – and two new volumes in the series entitled ‘Erasmus’s Correspondence’ in the Belvédère storytellers’ house.

On Wednesday 12 October, special Erasmus banners will be hoisted during the Flag Parade on Boompjes. You can find the entire programme on www.rotterdam.nl/erasmus.