Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Nederland New Year

Happy New Year! A new year, a new country, a new language, a new city. Lots of changes and new experiences. New experiences such as celebrating Oud en Nieuw (literally Old and New) or New Year's in the Netherlands. The last time I was here for this was when I was one year old. At least this time I could make it until midnight!

It is always such fun learning about how other cultures celebrate popular holidays. Here in the Netherlands, Oudjaarsavond (New Year's Eve) begins at about 10am with people setting off firecrackers to chase away the old year to bring in the new. Well, as you might imagine, cracks, booms, and whistles going off every five minutes from the morning time got old quickly. It sounded like we were sat in the middle of a war zone or The Blitz! Especially when the windows rattled after larger booms...I was just waiting for the air raid sirens... 

A popular snack, that I have completely fallen in love with, is Oliebollen (literally oil dumplings). They are dough balls dropped in hot oil, on which you can sprinkle icing sugar - when they are still warm they become a wonderful, sticky, oily mess. They often have raisins or currants inside. Here on Terschelling there is another version - cranberries - which the island is famous for. SO yummy! The bitterness of the cranberries mixes well with the sweet icing sugar. Honestly, it is amazing I haven't had a cardiac arrest after eating so many. Another treat is appelflap or apple turnovers.

Last night, the television was full of special programs for New Year's Eve, often with Dutch musicians and popular people. It's all a bit silly and fun; at one minute to midnight a clock comes on the screen and counts down until midnight.

Here on Terschelling the ferry boats and ships in the harbour sounded their horns for a minute at midnight. Fireworks started shooting off all over the village, so it was a lovely moment of noise and spectacle.

There were signs of pranks all along the street (a good day to hide your bins and lock up your bicycles!), and at every corner people were setting off their own fireworks. Many friends and family members hang out together at home before going out to see the fireworks, and perhaps for some, continuing on to the bars. Everyone we met on the street yelled out "Gelukkig Nieuwjaar" (Happy New Year), even though we didn't know each other.
Fireworks over the harbour, Terschelling

It was a interesting and fun evening of celebration (and in my case, stuffing my face with oliebollen). I love that traditions are still strong in this country. For example, today, New Year's Day, over 10,000 people across the Netherlands ran into the sea for a dip in the water. Brrr!

I wish you all the best for 2014 and hope it is all you hoped for. I know I will endeavour to make it a memorable one.