Christmas is only just over, and the next Dutch holiday is right around the corner. From indulging in greasy snacks to a chilly swim on January 1st, the Netherlands has its own fun and unique ways of bringing in the New Year (or Oud en Nieuw, as it’s known in Dutch).
To many Dutchies, no New Year’s Eve spread is considered complete without at least a dozen Oliebollen, so expect long queues at the stands on December 31st.
Oliebollen (literally, “oil balls”), are doughnut-sized lumps of deep-fried dough that are served with a light dusting of powdered sugar. They are usually plain, but sometimes come with other additions, including raisins, or even apples. We also eat "Appelflappen": apple rings in a dough, also deep-fried in oil and eaten with loads of powdered sugar. Start counting calories!!
Each year, millions of people buy a "Newyears lotteryticket" in the hope that they’ll bring in the New Year as a millionaire - and with good reason, as the 2023 jackpot stands at a whopping 30 million euros!
The results are announced at midnight, so many Dutchies ring in midnight with a glass of champagne, a sparkler, and a lottery ticket in their hands!
Rather than disposing of their Christmas trees in the regular way, many people in the Netherlands have a more spectacular way of getting rid of them: setting fire to huge bonfires of Christmas trees. Up and down the country, you’re likely to encounter smouldering piles of trees tens of metres tall. In the name of safety, don’t be tempted to start your own impromptu neighbourhood bonfire, but you might want to attend one of the massive bonfires organised by municipalities each year. The most famous ones are at the Museumplein in Amsterdam and at Scheveningen near The Hague.
Rather than heading to an organised fireworks display, most Dutchies prefer to take matters into their own hands on New Year’s Eve and light explosives in the street. The fact that you can only legally buy fireworks on three days each year in the Netherlands (December 29, 30 and 31) - and only light them between the hours of 6pm on December 31 and 2am on January 1 - means that everyone gets a little overexcited. Since most fireworks are forbidden in Holland, people drive to Belgium and Germany to buy more heavy fireworks, sometimes for more than 1000s of euro's.
And, finally, New Year’s celebrations are rounded off in the Netherlands with an ice-cold refresher. The Nieuwjaarsduik, also known as the Plar Bear Plunge. Each year at 12pm on New Year’s Day, around 30.000 brave people strip off and wash away their hangovers with a chilly dip in the North Sea.
The dive got adopted by Unox, a brand famous for its soups, smoked sausages and other canned goods, and nowadays the swimmers are kitted out with branded Unox hats and rewarded with a steaming hot bowl of pea soup to warm up afterwards.
The biggest New Year’s Dives take place at Zandvoort aan Zee and Scheveningen, but you’ll find smaller dives taking place at beach locations across the Netherlands. It’s hands down the world’s best hangover cure.
Weird people, aren't we?