The Dutch celebrate New Year’s Eve/Day (Oud en Nieuw) in their very own way! Let’s look at the top 3 notable traditions of the Dutch New Year:
Who doesn’t love deep-fried balls of dough covered in powdered sugar?! The direct translation of this very Dutch treat is “oily balls” and I must say it aptly sums up these tasty calorie bombs.
Oliebollen have a dumpling-like shape and resemble a homemade doughnut. As soon as the temperature drops in the Netherlands, enterprising Dutchies set up outdoor market stands and sell these sweet treats on every corner. The smell alone will have your mouth-watering even before you take the first bite. Traditionally, these doughy balls are made, and ate, at midnight on New Year’s Eve.
Historically speaking they are said to have been first eaten by Germanic tribes in the Netherlands between December 26 and January 6. During this time, the Germanic goddess Perchta would fly through the sky with a tribe of evil spirits. Apparently to appease these nasty spirits oliebollen were offered. The myth goes on to tell of how Perchta would try to slice open the bellies of anyone she came across but – luckily – her sword would simply slide off the bellies of all those who had eaten the tasty balls of oil!
Sure, most countries celebrate New Year’s Eve with the occasional firework, but make no mistake: this ain’t your pretty little light show put on by the local municipality! No, no my friends, this Dutch tradition could more so be described as COMPLETE-AND-UTTER-EXPLODING -CHAOS!
Dutchies young and old take to the streets, the parks, the public squares – essentially everywhere and anywhere – and literally start blowing shit UP! The first words that will come to most expats/tourists/foreigners lips when describing the evening of the 31st is “war zone”, and in fact, it’s not too far from the truth. The Dutch sky starts to light up as soon as the sky goes dark, and the clangs and bangs don’t stop until the wee wee hours of the morning.
Is it not dangerous, you ask? Why, yes it is. Last year, the Dutch government reported that over 700 people were injured: 5 hands amputated, several fingers removed, 236 eye injuries (91 of them with permanent damage) and 23 cases of blindness. 190 ambulances, 270 police cars, and 233 firetrucks were dispatched. So, yes my friend, there is indeed a lot of action on this night!
It seems however, that the Dutchies are divided on this issue. In a recent survey, 50% of Dutch people would like to see more restrictions on the festivities, whereas the other 50% are staunch defenders of this beloved “Dutch tradition”. Perhaps a few more lost eyes, will swing the vote? 😉 😉
New Year’s “Dive”
Of all the Dutch traditions, this one is definitely my favourite. In fact, this year I’m hoping to literally jump in and join the masses! Each year thousands of crazy Dutchies wade the frigid winter waters of the North Sea on 1 January for the annual New Year’s swim/dive.
The swim takes place in over 130 locations across the country, however the seaside town of Scheveningen gathers the largest crowd, with normally over 10,000 arctic swimmers! 2015 will be the 57th year of the tradition.
New Year’s dives are held all over the world, however the Netherlands boasts the most dive sites and the largest number of participants. (One of the oldest New Year’s dives actually takes place in Canada with the Vancouver “Polar Bear Club”organising the swim since 1920). For more information on how to join in the fun visit: www.nieuwjaarsduik.info.
So my dear readers, wherever and however you celebrate the new year – make it a safe one! I, for one, hope to enjoy all 3 of the above-mentioned traditions!
p.s. Don’t worry, we didn’t forget about the “Top 2000”! You read all about it over here.