Dutch Language Blog

How the Dutch Dip Into the New Year under COVID Rules Posted by on Jan 11, 2021 in Culture, News

Everybody starts the new year differently. A common way for the Dutch is the nieuwjaarsduik (New Year’s Dip). Dutch maniacs (that’s what I call them) all over the country dip into freezing January water in nothing but their swimwear. And, at least at the largest event, an orange unoxmutsje (Unox hat). With the sausage maker’s sponsorship, the event has been growing ever larger in the past year. Masses of people that run towards the sea for a quick, cold dip has become the norm. However, as you now probably think, “no way they did that this year, because coronavirus“. That’s exactly right! But the Dutch are inventive, as they’ve shown before with Koningsdag last April. So how did they manage to do a nieuwjaarsduik while social distancing?

Als jij niet naar de zee kan komen, komt de zee gewoon naar jou – the nieuwjaarsduik uit blik

Realizing that these massive crowds were not possible, Unox came up with a smart way to save the January tradition. Under the motto als jij niet naar de zee kan komen, komt de zee gewoon naar jou (if you can’t come to the sea, the sea simply comes to you), Unox created the nieuwjaarsduik uit blik (New Year’s dip from a can). This blik is filled with noordzeewater (North Sea water), as that’s the water that people dip into with the Unox nieuwjaarsduik. Before using it, however, you have to put the water in the koelkast (fridge) for a while. Of course, you don’t want to get showered in water at a pleasant temperature. Like I said, maniacs!

The nieuwjaarsduik uit blik was available for free in December on nieuwjaarsduik.nl; As you can imagine, they went very quickly. Within the day they were put online, all 25.000 were gone. Those lucky enough to get a blik, could perform their thuisduik (home dip) and share it on social media with #unoxthuisduik. So, it made for a great kerstcadeau (Christmas gift), too!

Everybody was asked to do their thuisduik at noon on January 1.

So what if you couldn’t get a blik? Does that mean you can’t participate? Well, Unox had an answer for this too. And if you want to do a late one, you can participate this way as well!

Do it yourself!

Nieuwjaarsduik Unoxmuts thuisduik

My own Unox muts I have lying around at home! (Image by author)

Realizing that they couldn’t possibly satisfy demand, Unox also published a document with instructions on how to make a nieuwjaarsduik uit blik yourself. Of course, this wouldn’t be real noorzeewater, but it’s the same idea.

At this link, you can download instructions and even etiketten (labels) for your blik, so that it also looks just like the real deal. Here’s what you need:

1. Een willekeurig leeg blik om water in te doen*.
2. Water, voor in het willekeurige lege blik.
3. Een mespuntje zout (voor het zee effect).
4. Een koelkast om het in koud te zetten.
5. Een plek om te thuisduiken. Bijvoorbeeld: tuin, douche of balkon.
6. Een horloge, zodat je weet wanneer het 1 januari 12:00 uur is.

In English:

1. Any empty can to put the water in.
2. Water to put into that empty can.
3. A pinch of salt (for the sea effect).
4. A fridge to keep it cold.
5. A place to do the home dip. For example: garden, shower or balcony.
6. A watch, so that you know when it’s noon on January 1.

Why not do a nieuwjaarsduik on January 11? I think the entire month still counts to wash this last year off! Well, it should, considering how ongezellig that year was.

Have you participated in the nieuwjaarsduik before? Will you participate with the thuisduik? Do you have similar traditions in your country, and how did they find a solution during these trying times? Let me know in the comments below!


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About the Author: Sten

Hi! I am Sten, both Dutch and German. For many years, I've written for the German and the Dutch blogs with a passion for everything related to language and culture. It's fascinating to reflect on my own culture, and in the process allow our readers to learn more about it! Besides blogging, I am a German-Dutch-English translator, animator and filmmaker.


  1. James:

    Hi Sten,
    I saw an older post from you regarding “The Dutch Alternative for the Elfstedentocht.” I am trying to find out more information regarding the Elfstedentocht.

    Have the rules committee always, since 1909, required that the ice is at least 15 centimeters thick along the entire 199km-long route?

    Or were there any Elfstedentocht events when the ice was not 15 centimeters?

    I was looking at some photos of the 1985 Elfstedentocht and it looked like there was rain?

    Any help is appreciated and thank you

    • Sten:

      @James Hi James!

      Thanks for your interest in this topic, that’s very nice.
      The Frisian website of the Elfstedentocht gives you a lot of information: https://www.elfstedentocht.frl/
      I found this article from Trouw from 2013 that explores this a bit further: https://www.trouw.nl/nieuws/hoe-koud-moet-het-zijn-voor-de-elfstedentocht~bcda1f14/
      There, it says:
      Het Elfstedencomité wil overal minimaal 15 centimeter hebben, historisch gezien moet de ijsvloer op het dikste punt 20 centimeter dik zijn – alleen bij de tocht van 1985 (en die van 1909) was de ijsvloer een fractie dunner. Zelfs bij meer dan 20 centimeter is de tocht soms alsnog geschrapt, bijvoorbeeld omdat er veel zwakke plekken waren. Sinds 1901 gebeurde dat in zes jaren.
      (The Elfsteden Commission wants at least 15 cm everywhere, historically the ice floor has to be 20 cm thick on the thickest point – only with the tour of 1985 (and the one of 1909), the ice floor was a little bit thinner. Even when there was more than 20 cm, the tour had to be cancelled anyway, for example because there were too many weak points. Since 1901, that happened in six years.)

      It’s hard to find anything on how the rules were way back. Here’s another nice article I found:

      The best source for everything really seems to be this one:
      If there are any questions you can’t find an answer to there, you can always try to tweet at them or send them an email with your questions.

      In case you have trouble with some of the Dutch, you could try to translate the websites with Google Translate. It’s gotten pretty good!

      Hope this helps 🙂 good luck!