Most celebrate New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day in the same fashion no matter where you are. There might be champagne, fireworks and midnight countdowns from South America to Europe, all carrying a similar air and spirit. However, every country has their New Year’s quirks, the traditions that set their New Year’s apart from the rest. In the Netherlands, the New Year is celebrated with an emphasis on quirk, where donuts, homemade cannons and icy swims make it possible to ring out the old year with the new in arguably the strangest of fashions.
Fancy An Icy Swim?
On New Year’s Day, some Dutch celebrate the New Year with an ice-cold swim. Often referred to as the New Year’s Dive, a number of seaside towns across the country host icy swims in the North Sea. The brave and arguably crazy strip down in next to nothing and take a dip in the ice cold waters. The tradition began in 1960 when a swim club started making New Year’s Day plunges. Over 60 locations throughout the Netherlands partake in the plunge. Around 25,000 people splash around as long as they can stand it. One of the most popular New Year’s Dives takes place in Scheveningen.
Let’s Toast with Donuts and Apple Fritters!
While you will still find a fair amount of champagne imbibing for New Year’s Eve in the Netherlands, it is mostly customary to toast the New Year with donuts and apple fritters. Called oliebollen, literally meaning oil balls, the deep fried donut type creation is customarily consumed on New Year’s Eve. The Dutch donut is generally made with raisins, currants or chopped apple. In addition to oliebollen, the Dutch also like to enjoy appelbeignets, a type of apple fritter sprinkled with ground cinnamon and powdered sugar. If you are thinking of dieting in the New Year, the Dutch have the right attitude. Feast on donuts and fritters before the clock strikes midnight.
Bring (and Make) Your Own Fireworks
Most countries leave the fireworks displays to the professionals. In the Netherlands, fireworks for New Year’s create more of a bang. Not only does the country spend millions of Euros each year on fireworks for one night, but also people are allowed to set off their own fireworks. The end result is an explosion of light and color all over the country when midnight rolls around. In addition to your normal fireworks, some of the Dutch also partake in the tradition of carbide shooting. The Dutch New Year’s Eve practice involves filling up old milk jugs with carbide and water, sealing them up and then firing them off. The end result is similar to that of cannon fire. The practice is intended to ward off evil spirits for a good New Year.