New Year’s irons in the East of the Netherlands

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 book about these New Year’s irons, for which I took photographs and did research. Several of these irons contained names and I helped to find out who these people were. Here are two of my favorite irons, both from the collection of the Palthehuis museum in Oldenzaal.

Hendrik Jannink and Theodora Kuitenbrouwer, 1722

IJzers_JanninkKuitenbrouwer IJzersJK2

Each iron consists of two blades. The photographs are of the actual blades, with the image and text mirrored. This was done so that the image on the waffles would be correct.

The first blade shows two family crests and the second blade shows two hearts, one pierced. The first blade shows the names of the owners: Hendrik Jannink and Theodora Kuitenbrouwer. Both blades show the year 1722. Genealogical research shows that Hendrik Jannink and Theodora Kuitenbrouwer married in Oldenzaal on 12 April 1722, so the iron could well have been made on occasion of their marriage.

This iron is monogrammed ‘I:S:’. Research showed that the monogram refers to Jan Siemerink, a blacksmith who worked in Oldenzaal in the 18th century.

Herman Davina and Catrina Hampsink, 1733

Iron Davina-Hampsink, 1733 Ijzers_DH2
The first blade shows two family crests, the year 1733 and the names: Herman Davina and Catrina Hampsink. Genealogical research showed the couple married in 1713, so this iron was not created at the time of their marriage but twenty years later. The second blade shows Catholic symbols: the Passion of Christ and a Latin text meaning “If God be for us, who can be against us.” Stylistically, the iron is similar to the 1722 iron, so it was probably made by Jan Siemerink too.

Woman baking waffles over a stove

The waffle baker. Credits: A.H. Bakker Korff, Rijksmuseum (Public Domain)


  • E. Jans, L. van Eennennaam, E. Marijnissen, T. Kroese, Nieuwjaarsijzers in Oost-Nederland [New Year’s Irons in East-Netherlands] (Enschede : Van den Berg, 1999).
About Yvette Hoitink

Yvette Hoitink, MLitt, CG®, QG™ is a professional genealogist, writer, and lecturer in the Netherlands. She has a Master of Letters in Family and Local History from the University of Dundee, and holds the Certification of Genealogist and Qualified Genealogist credentials. Yvette served on the Board of Directors of the Association of Professional Genealogists and won excellence awards for her articles in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly and the Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly. Yvette has been doing genealogy for over 30 years. She helps people from across the world find their ancestors from the Netherlands and its former colonies, including New Netherland. Read about Yvette's professional genealogy services.


  1. How nice topic! Although we too have this waffle backing tradition here in the south of the Netherlands I have never dug into this and never saw such special irons! No idea if they exist over here too.

    • Isn’t it funny how different the traditions can be for the different parts of such a small country? I would love to hear about some of the Limburg traditions (besides Vlaaien!).

  2. Kathy Lisowski says

    That is great. The irons were probably passed down through the generations. My family just enjoys watching the parade on the television. We usually cook a ham, or something special.

    • We just eat ‘oliebollen.’ I agree with you that these irons were passed down through the generations. They probably always hung on the same place next to the hearth and when the farm passed to the next generation, so did the irons. In one of the museums we visited for the book, an open-air museum in an old farm, they still kept the irons near the hearth. Just lovely.

  3. My mother says my grandmother made waffles on New Year’s Day and she had no idea it was a Dutch tradition. No special waffle irons, though.

    (My grandmother was the great-grandaughter of immigrants. All of her grandparents were second-generation Dutch immigrants.)

  4. Jane Kamerman says

    These irons are fascinating! I’ve never seen one before. Our family also had Olieballen for New Years, but not waffles. Thanks for all your information!

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