New Year’s Eve in the Netherlands is celebrated in a most untypically over-the-top way. Here are 10 things you must do to fit right in.
1. Buy fireworks – lots of them and enormous ones – if you have not smuggled them in from Belgium or Eastern Europe months ago. You can only buy fireworks on December 29, 30 and 31 – and for some reason, garages seem to be popular licenced stockists.
Start setting off your fireworks well before 6pm on December 31, which is when you are officially allowed to do so. Frighten dogs
2. Listen to the final fifty or so entries in Radio 2’s Top2000 which, for some bizarre reason, is listened to by millions of people every year and won every year (almost) by Queen’s Bohemiam Rhapsody.
3. Watch whichever comedian is giving this year’s televised Oudejaarsconference – a long and winding monologue wrapping up the year.
4. Buy an oudejaarslot – a lottery ticket – in the hope of winning €30 million. You and 17 million other people.
5. Eat oliebollen and appelflappen – deep-fried dough balls covered in icing sugar and deep-fried apple dough balls. Forget the diet until January 2.
6. Set fire to a car or two – but only if you live in a Brabant or a Drenthe village where it is tradition, of course.
7. Other rural traditions include massive bonfires made up of Christmas trees and carbidschieten (or death by milk churn) which involves mixing carbide and water in a milk churn and blasting off the lid.
8. Throw a few fireworks at the police and emergency service workers if you are in a car fire, Christmas tree fire or carbide zone. Become one of the 1,000 or so people who get arrested during the New Year celebrations every year.
9. Have a New Year’s Day swim in the sea – along with tens of thousands of others attempting to shake off their hangover.
10. Wear an orange hat advertising smoked sausage company Unox while having your swim. Beware, if you are a pretty girl in a bikini you may end up the Telegraaf newspaper’s new favourite front page pin-up.