I grew up in Haarlem, in the Netherlands, which is situated close to the North Sea and surrounded by dunes and dikes and wetlands. I remember once, as we were out on our bikes driving around, we passed a statue of a boy with his finger in the dike. Probably the one in Spaarnwoude (see image). I remember that my mother told me the story about how this boy Hans had saved the dike. He saw there was a little hole in the dike and put his finger in it, to stop the water from coming through. He was the ‘hero of Haarlem’, making sure the town was not flooded.
As I read about this story now, it turns out not to be a Dutch story at all, but an American one first published in 1865. It was written by Mary Mapes Dodge. So it’s American folklore about the Netherlands. Still, for me it is a Dutch story connected to my childhood.