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Year of the Traditions logo

2009 is proclaimed Jaar van de Tradities (Year of the Traditions) in The Netherlands. After polling a large number of people, the organization of the Jaar van de Tradities compiled a top 100 of the most important Dutch traditions, which they published earlier this month.

Not all of the top 100 traditions are typical Dutch traditions. Some are international (decorating the Christmas tree at number 2), some are recently imported by immigrants (Ramadan at number 14), but many others I've never seen outside The Netherlands.

So, what are our most popular traditions? Let's have a look at the top five. If you have Dutch roots, I would love to hear in the comments section below if you recognize any of the Dutch traditions. Do you still celebrate these (or other) Dutch traditions?

The number five tradition is decorating eggs at easter. I think this is done in most western countries, it is certainly not a Dutch tradition.


Number four is a real Dutch tradition: Eating oliebollen on new year's eve. Oliebollen are basically deep-fried balls of dough, sometimes with raisins. They are eaten with powdered sugar. Many people make their own (and if they did you can often still smell the oliebollen days later in their kitchen), but in the last few days of the year they are also widely available from bakeries, supermarkets and market stalls.

At number three is the Vrijmarkt (free market) on Koninginnedag (Queen's Day). Koninginnedag is the celebration of the queen's birthday, traditionally a holiday in The Netherlands. In many towns, anyone is allowed to sell things on the streets, turning town centres into giant flea markets. On this day, you do not need a license to operate a market stall, or pay taxes over your sales. People just lay down a blanket on the sidewalk or on the street, and spread out their cast-offs. Many of the vendors are children. The largest and most famous Vrijmarkt is the one in the Vondelpark in Amsterdam.

The second-most popular tradition is placing and decorating a Christmas tree before Christmas. An international tradition, obviously: You probably do that as well every year.

Can you guess our number one tradition? It will be the topic of the next post, tomorrow.


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Blogger Miriam Robbins said...

Oliebollen is a tradition at our house, Henk, along with banket.

I'm going to guess that putting out klompen for St. Nicholas on the evening of December 5th is another strong tradition.

Blogger Henk van Kampen said...

Good guess, Miriam!

You make the oliebollen yourself? From an old family recipe?


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