Wednesday, January 2

Defining Awesome

Tradition and protocol for New Year's Eve in The Netherlands calls for complete mayhem. Chaos with a capital C you might say.

Me, I just call it crazy.

In a country which regulates just nearly everything which can be regulated it seems obvious come to Old Year's Night, that absolutely no rules apply. In the weeks preceding, fireworks are sold at the grocery stores, the plant nurseries and various other locations. Selections include the benign hand held sparklers and bottle rockets, but also include the kinds of things I do not know the names for and would hardly dare to guess the firepower behind. The fun (?) begins in the days prior to the 31st and it is not uncommon to have a firecracker thrown under your bike wheels as you cycle blithely down the lane. Nor is it odd to hear the rapid fire rhythm of hundreds of crackers set off together to reverberate off row house walls and narrow alleys.

Come the last day of the year proper, the fire play is random but constant throughout the day. It seems rather obvious to this onlooker that the stockpiles of explosives must be vast as players light the lines hours before the clock strikes midnight.

Midnight itself is a wonder, albeit a slightly-frightening-unbelievably-loud-wonder, to behold. After the initial shout: Gelukkig Nieuwjaar! and the standard three-kiss affectionate display for all in the room or at the party, the front doors of homes are thrown open wide and all pour into the streets where the name of the game seems to be DO IT FAST AND DO IT WILD. The fireworks are launched from the street, from the tops of trash cans, from the garden walls and they are launched with an energy which, unless witnessed, cannot be believed.

The result is a cacophonous nightmare which is simultaneously terrifying and totally stimulating.

All the while fire is exploding overhead and underfoot, neighbors call out Happy New Year and greet each other with the friendly three kisses--right cheek, left cheek, right cheek--for one and all. Everyone laughs and smiles. Everyone groans about the noise and the craziness. Everyone thrills over this very Dutch way to bring it in.

Lest you begin to think that it's all over in a moment I feel compelled to point out that noise and chaos is the lullaby still echoing in the streets well past 3:00 a.m.

Personally, I believe that makes it reasonable that the first resolution of the New Year is:
1. Stay in bed all day on the first.

I am happy to report that's a resolution fulfilled.

Happy New Year to all. Here's hoping 2008 is full of wonder.

(please pardon the *lack of* video skills here. I am a complete novice. you'll note the first part of the video is angled incorrectly. I fix it later, I am not a complete dork, just a slight one.)


  1. mmm.... stay in bed all day. What an excellent resolution! I hope all your ambitions for 2008 are as easily fulfilled! Happy New Year!

  2. I remember my first New Year in Holland - I thought the world had gone mad. Stand with a box of fire-works and lighted cigarette in your mouth? Why not! Throw a firecracker directly into a group of people? Sure! Lean a rocket on the kerb and fire it down the street? Absolutely...

    I love it, but they are crazy.

  3. Now this is a Dutch tradition with which I was unfamiliar.

    It truly does not surprise me, however. After all, they're Dutch!

  4. Ooohh... I wish I could have stayed in bed.

    I had no idea things were so regulated in the Netherlands. I had always imagined that it was a fairly wild place. Glad to see that it truly is at least once a year!

  5. Yup - the Dutch may be reserved most of the time but they do know how to party it up for a holiday!

  6. wow.... that sounds like fun. Sounds like a party hearty time. Glad you got to stay in bed. (((HUGS)))

  7. I'm a big fireworks fan--BUT not sure I'd want it going off inches from my face, property, car . . . LOL.

    Thanks for the pictures and sound--that was fun to see and glad you shared!

  8. my dog who was TERRIFIED of fireworks would have just been miserable. I would have spent New Year's Day trying to pull her out from under the bed.

    I'm curious about this whole throwing them at people thing. How many injuries? that has to be pretty scary.

  9. Hi from Ireland. Found you on hsb's WW. Happy New Year and will check back in soon.

  10. Wow - what a blast. It's the same here in Norway as well. People go crazy with fireworks and parties.

    I will later try to upload a video from Oslo - with view all over the inner Oslofjord bassin. We had a very clear night and a fantastic view from a Hill.

    Happy New Year

  11. Perfect way to spend Jan. 1 - in fact, that was my plan, but...

    What a bang-up New Years!

  12. yep I can only agree with what you've written. As you know I've experienced my first Dutch New year and it was pretty scary at some moments!!!

    Glad that I didn't force you coming out of bed. Glad I wasn't supposed to come out of the sofa either while other friends came by to wish us a happy new year ;) Gosh I was so tired!!!

    Next time we'll meet for sure. We definately will either in Belgium or the Netherlands!

  13. Wow, what a celebration! We were pretty low key here. So much so that Julia had to ask, "So, that was it? What do we do now?"

  14. Crazy stuff huh? The video is great--I love seeing your life.

  15. Wow as well! I liked them coming sideways though - started with my sound turned up too high, and I actually ducked. Keep blogging, and happy New Year.

  16. i just stumbled across your blog, missing my friend from Holland as i just got back from Den Haag yesterday! New Year's was sooo unbelievably fun there:) that was my first trip to Europe and i LOVED it.

  17. Love that first resolution. Here's hoping you made it happen!