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Oliebollen and DIY fireworks: The Dutch way of celebrating the new year

Oliebollen and DIY fireworks: The Dutch way of celebrating the new year

Gelukkig Nieuwjaar everyone! Yesterday, we said goodbye to 2020 and toasted to a new year to come. In the Netherlands there are few evenings that are more widely celebrated than Oud en Nieuw (Old and New, that’s how the Dutch refer to New Year’s eve). Of course, things looked slightly different than usual this year, also here in the Netherlands. But luckily we still were able to eat lots of oliebollen! Have you heard about the Dutch New Year’s traditions?

Oliebollen en champagne

For many Dutchies, New Year’s Eve is an opportunity to get together with friends or family and celebrate the beginning of a new year in style. Some prefer to keep it small and play some board games or watch the new year’s conference (the annual cabaret performance on Dutch national television for new year’s eve), some make it the biggest party of the year. But there is one thing that almost everyone in the Netherlands does during this evening: eating oliebollen! Literally translated as oil bolls, this typical Dutch sweet delicacy consists of deep-fried dough, sometimes with raisins in it. You eat them with lots of poedersuiker (powdered sugar) and you can buy them at oliebollenkramen (special stalls for oliebollen).

As a typical New Year’s snack, they combine perfectly with a glass of champagne. Proost!

Fireworks for everyone

Another typical Dutch New Year’s Eve tradition (that not everybody is a fan of) is vuurwerk afsteken (setting off fireworks). In the Netherlands, legal fireworks are available for everybody and many Dutch people absolutely LOVE to create their own firework spectacle. When the clock strikes 12, you can enjoy fireworks anywhere in the Dutch streets. For the cats and dogs in the Netherlands, New Year’s Eve is a little less enjoyable for this reason..The poor things are usually scared to death, hiding under the couch and waiting for the banging to be over.


And then there is another Dutch tradition on the 1st of January that might not sound very attractive to you..The morning after New Year’s Eve, a massive event takes place by the Dutch sea: the Nieuwjaarsduik (New Year’s dive). Hundreds of people put on their bathing suits and run into the freezing cold North Sea to usher in the new year. Speaking of a fresh start!


Are you inspired to celebrate your next Oud en Nieuw in the Netherlands? You can learn many more about Dutch traditions in our various language courses. Check out our course offer to find out more!