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New Year’s Eve – the Dutch Way

It is official: Two more weeks are left of 2020. Two more weeks of this, well, let’s say, unique year. I don’t know what your thoughts are on this year or what hopes you have for 2021. Maybe you haven’t even started to think about any of this, and you are just longing to start the Christmas break to catch a breath. One thing is for sure, New Year’s Eve is around the corner. Even though every person has their own way of celebrating New Year’s Eve, there are some traditions that are shared all over the country. This blog will tell you all about celebrating New Year’s the Dutch way. I learned about these traditions while writing the blog stumbling across some pretty awesome ways to celebrate the New Year. I have to say I absolutely love that there are that many food traditions included! But first things first, what are some non-food related ones?

One huge part of Dutch New Year’s tradition is probably most affected by this year – the individual fireworks lighting up the sky at midnight. Groups of friends and families buy their own fireworks and celebrate the beginning of the New Year together. A tradition that we will have to skip this year, sadly. This might actually be a tradition that is well known in other countries as well. But have you heard of carbide shooting and New Year’s dives? Using milk or paint cans to shoot carbides on New Year’s, has been part of the tradition for quite a while and is still enjoyed in some areas. Probably the best way to blow off some steam at the end of the year.

If you enjoy doing something different or unique this year, you might also want to try the New Year’s Dive on the 1st of January. The beginning of the New Year is celebrated by taking a short dip in the sea or a lake and enjoying the ice-cold water. The largest New Year’s dive in the world is organized in Scheveningen.

We will probably all agree that this year has been intense and was not what we expected it to be. I think we deserve to end this year by acknowledging all the things we have learned and laughing about all the crazy things it has brought about. And since I am not necessarily equipped for that task, let me refer you to the last non-food related New Year’s tradition: the Oudejaars conference. During this program on the 31st of December, well-known comedians mock the gone by year, and this year, they will have a lot of content!

But what would be New Year’s without the appropriate food? The Dutch have not only one but three typical things to eat on New Year’s Eve. How amazing is that? One of these things is Oliebollen. If you live in the Netherlands, you probably saw the colourful trucks on every corner that sell all kinds of treats. They also sell Oliebollen, and they are simply delicious. Oliebollen is a kind of fried dough covered in powdered sugar. Adding to this treat is another traditional New Year’s food: Appelbeignets. Apples are cut into slices and covered with a dough made of sugar, flour, milk, and eggs. The apple rings will be fried and afterwards covered in sugar. These two recipes will definitely sweeten up the beginning of this new year, but that is not where the Dutch stopped. They even took it a step further and connected a symbolic meaning to food – I mean, this is just genius. This recipe is called Kniepertjes or Nieuwjaarsrolletjes. The dough is prepared with butter, flour, eggs, and a lot of sugar and is baked in a waffle maker. Now the symbolic part comes into play: Some of the waffles are kept flat, and some are rolled up. The flat waffles will be eaten on the 31st of December. They symbolize that the past year has already revealed all it had in store. The rolled-up waffles will be kept for the 1st of January. You might be able to guess, they symbolize the new year and that we have absolutely no idea what will happen. If you got curious from reading about these delicious recipes and want to try them, you can find a recipe for Oliebollen at the end of the page.

Even though this year has been very different and changed most of our expectations, it is still worth celebrating. At the least, we made it through, but that is probably not the only good thing about it. And yes, it might be hard to let go of certain New Year’s traditions, but maybe new ones can be made.

I hope you will, despite the circumstances, have a wonderful Christmas and New Year’s!

Recipe Oliebollen


500 g               Flour

50 g                 Sugar

120 ml             Water

480 ml             Milk

2 large             Eggs

35 g                 Yeast

1/2 teaspoon   Salt

1600 g             Oil

Powdered Sugar

  1. Let the yeast disolve in lukewarm water.
  2. Mix together flour, sugar and salt. Add the yeast mixture, eggs and lukewarm milk. Mix together the ingredients until the dough is smooth.
  3. Cover this mixture with a damptowel and let it rise for 1 hour in a warm area.
  4. Heat up the oil. When the oil has the right temperature use two tablespoons to form small balls from the mixture and drop them into the oil. Fry them until they are golden brown from each side.
  5. Cover them in powdered sugar and enjoy!

This recipe is an adapted version of the blog “the spruceEats”, for a more detailed description check out their post.