Quick tip – Share your mysteries online

School photo of my grandfather in the 1920s

If you have family traditions that you're unsure about, or have questions about your family, try sharing that online in a place where your family members can read about it. You may get the answers to your question. Two years ago, I wrote a tribute to my grandfather on this blog. In the post, I shared how my grandfather and I used to describe the … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Kermis

Dutch women in traditional costume in a carousel

The kermis is the carnival. Most towns have a carnival once of twice a year. The kermis was traditionally a time of courtship, where young folks got together. Some areas had a fair, where young women would line up and young men would select the girl of their choice to take to the carnival and to walk her home at the end of the … [Read more...]

Quick tip – New Years’ traditions

Firemen eating 'oliebollen'

Different areas in the Netherlands have different New Years' traditions. Making a lot of noise is pretty universal. I recall my grandfather showing me his too-short finger on New Year's Eve to warn me about the danger of fireworks. It had cost him the tip of his finger so he only had half a nail. Another one of my ancestors was fined for … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Aanzegger

man in black clothes calling at a door

An aanzegger is a person who goes to inform neighbors and friends that someone has died. Traditionally, aanzeggen was done by a close neighbor, but in some regions it became custom to hire someone for the task. … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Pasen

group of children pulling a cart loaded with wood

Pasen is the Dutch term for Easter. In the Netherlands, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday are official holidays and most people have the day off. Most of the Easter traditions that are celebrated in the Netherlands are pretty universal, like painting and hiding eggs. In the eastern part of the country there is a more unusual tradition: Easter … [Read more...]

New Year’s irons in the East of the Netherlands

Jannink Kuitenbrouwer waffle iron

Happy New Year everybody! How are you celebrating? In the eastern part of the Netherlands, in the provinces of Groningen, Drenthe, Overijssel and Gelderland, there is a tradition of baking New Year's waffles on New Year's Day. Traditionally, these waffles were made using large irons which were put in the hearth. In 1999, my mother co-authored a … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Midwinterhoorn

Man blowing a midwinterhoorn

Midwinterhoorn literally means "Mid winter horn." It is a wooden horn that is typical for the eastern part of the country. The horns are made of a curved branch of a tree, which is sawed in half length-wise, hollowed out and put back together with a mouth piece attached to it. In Gelderland and Overijssel, midwinterhoorns are traditionally … [Read more...]

Sinterklaas

Sinterklaas on a white horse

It's almost December 5th, Saint Nicholas day. In the Netherlands that's a big event for small children, like Santaclaus in the US. In this article I will describe how Sinterklaas is celebrated in the Netherlands and our own family traditions around this holiday. … [Read more...]