As many of my readers around the world probably know, I grew up in the Netherlands. Happy as I was there, I had a travel bug and luckily ended up hitched to a globetrotting American who took me to exotic places. However, my emotional roots are stuck in Dutch soil and I look back with longing at some of our traditions.
As a little Dutch girl, pigtails and all, I loved Oudejaarsavond, which means literally old year’s evening, and is, of course, New Year’s Eve in proper English. In the Netherlands Oudejaarsavond is celebrated with the setting off of masses of fireworks after the consumption of copious amounts of oliebollen. Oliebollen means oil balls. I know what you are thinking: Yuk! But trust me, they are scrumptious. Just look at this photo. And yes, I made these, if not this year. My kids grew up having them at New Year’s Eve.
Oliebollen are related to the old-fashioned American doughnut. Although many Dutch people these days buy them commercially for the occasion, every person worth his or her salt in the Netherlands knows how to make them: You mix up a simple batter with bits of apple or raisins, drop spoonfuls into a pan full of hot oil and bingo: oil balls. Then you douse them in powdered sugar and stuff yourself.
You spend New Year’s Eve with friends, neighbors and family, little kids and all. You eat said oil balls, raise a glass or two, and at midnight you go out into the street and set off your fireworks to celebrate the birth of a new year. Sometimes neighborhoods get together and make a big show of it.
So here a photo of neighborhood fireworks in Holland in a town I lived in for some time. I now live in France, and will miss my oliebollen this year. Next year I’m hoping to whip up a big batch for family in the USA. And with this I wish all of you and yours
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What are your New Year’s Eve traditions? Do you have special experiences or memories?