Dutch Language Blog

How the Dutch Cool Off After Those New Year Fireworks Posted by on Jan 3, 2014 in Culture


photo: flickr user afritze

What’s a Dutchie to do after a night of lighting up the sky with vuurwerken to ring in the New Year?

Jump into the ocean, of course!

On January 1, 2014 – just like every other year since 1960 (with the exception of 2007, when bad weather forced organizers to cancel) – the people of the Netherlands flocked to shores all over the country for the Nieuwjaarsduik.

This year, more than 100 locations participated, including Scheveningen (the beach where it all began over 50 years ago) in Den Haag. According to Dutch national newspaper, De Volkskrant, some 46,000 people took the nieuwjaarsplons this year – a good 6,000 more than in 2013). About a quarter of them jumped into the North Sea from Scheveningen beach, which has always been the most popular spot for the polar bear plunge.

While it wasn’t quite as warm as it was last year (12 degrees centigrade, says De Telegraaf’s article covering this year’s dive), at 7.5 graden, it’s still bath water compared to the all-time low of -6.2 degrees recorded in 1997. Of course, those are just the water temperatures. For the divers, it probably felt more like 3 degrees this past Wednesday.

Whether mildly chilling or freaking freezing, duikers can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that Unox will be there to hand out the Unox mutsen and special edition erwtensoep cans that have been a tradition since 1998.

Of course, it’s not just the Dutch who kick off the new year with a dip in the sea. New Year’s dives are organized all over the world. Most of them charge a participation fee, which is donated to a goed doel.

The very observant (and super confused) readers will have noticed that I’ve sprinkled this post with a number of Dutch words… without including the definitions. Some of you may have been able to figure many of them out based on the context or the links that went with them.

If you didn’t, that’s perfectly fine. I won’t leave you hanging.

So without further ado…

Vocabulaire: De Nieuwjaarsduik
vuurwerken – fireworks
nieuwjaarsduik – New Year’s dive
Den Haag – The Hague
nieuwjaarsplons – New Year’s plunge
graden – degrees
duikers – divers
muts(en) – hat(s)
erwtensoep – pea soup
goed doel – charity / good cause

Will you be brave (or downright foolish) enough to take the plunge in 2015?

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About the Author: tiffany

Tiffany Jansen is an American magazine and copywriter in the Netherlands.


  1. http://angielski.cf:

    You have brought up a very good details , thankyou for the post.