Did you ever ask yourself why the traffic light near Neude looks like a bunny? Well, I asked one of my fellow Dutch students and the answer I’ve got was: “It’s not just any bunny, it’s Nijntje!”. So who or what is Nijntje?
Nijntje, or ‘Miffy’ ( the English version), was ‘born’ in 1955. Dick Bruna, a Dutch author from Utrecht, used to tell his eldest son bedtime stories about a small white bunny, jumping through life. This bunny became the inspiration for Miffy. The first Nijntje books were such a huge success that Bruna simply kept on creating new adventures for the little bunny. In general, Miffy became Bruna’s best known and most popular character, featuring in more than 30 children books.
What does the name ‘Nijntje’ mean?
The word ‘nijntje’ derives from the Dutch word ‘konijntje’, which means ‘little bunny’. A pretty logical name for the comic figure for anyone who speaks Dutch! Because ‘nijntje’ is difficult to pronounce for non-Dutch speakers and because the word ‘bunny’ has so many different words in other languages, Dick Bruna’s little bunny is simply known as ‘Miffy’ around the world. This name does not have any special meaning but is easy to pronounce for everyone. In the past, Miffy had a different name in every language. For example she was known as ‘le petit lapin’ in France or as ‘kleintje’ in South Africa. Since 1996, however, she is everywhere known as Miffy, except the Netherlands!
Where to find Nijntje in Utrecht
Besides the famous traffic light, Miffy can be found in many other places in Utrecht. For example the Nijntje Museum and a statue of the little bunny. Although it is supposed to be a character for children books, I can only highly recommend to pay the museum a visit and let out your inner child! Also, head over to the Nijntje website where you can get to know the bunny a little bit better. It is also available in English.