Day 5: New Years Eve
Leeuwarden Travel Blog› entry 7 of 8 › view all entries
December 31st, 2005 – by: alison_wndrlnd
We first stopped into the shop where Eva's sister, Sara, worked.
Eva then took us to this really cute place around the corner. It was an old time candy shop place (so cute!), but they also had a seating area where they served tea and pastries and stuff. The place was so desserted that the little old ladies who run the shop didn't even see us come in and sit down. But when they eventually did find us, Eva treated us to a kind of "very traditionally Dutch" specialty cake. (Don't remember what it was called) Usually, it's a food reserved for special occasions though. Like the Queen's birthday.
We then took a stroll outside the city centre to go visit the old house where Jena used to live. It was a decent hike, especially in those conditions. We did pass this along the way though:
Eventually though, all our feet were so numb that we weren't even sure they actually existed anymore. So we made back for the house about mid-afternoon.
The rest of New Years Eve was quite interesting. I can certainly say it was unlike any other New Years I've had. Apparently no one really celebrates the lead up to the New Year. Rather, all the celebrations start at midnight. So we spent the evening in like it was any other night. Well... almost any other night.
Anyway, at midnight the real fun started. We all got champagne, watched some countdown thing with bad music on tv, I quickly tried to learn the Dutch for "Happy New Year" (it wasn't happening), and then right outside for (drumroll please)... The Fireworks.
Now, I'd been waiting for The Fireworks for a while now. I had heard so much about them, that they had been built up as this magical mythological event in my head. I didn't know what to expect. But clearly the Dutch take their fireworks more seriously than possibly anyone else in the world, save for maybe the Chinese (credit for invention).
It's not the quality of the display for the Dutch though. Far from it. For the Dutch it is 100% purely about the Quantity. Everyone who's anyone sets off their own fireworks display right from their front porch. We opened the door at midnight and nothing but a giant wall of smoke and flashes of blinding light met us from every direction. From every square inch of Leeuwarden crackers were being shot into the air... heck, we had at least 9 displays going off from the middle of our road alone (Mr Annema and Friso contributing, naturally). It was the craziest thing I had ever seen. I felt like I was in a war zone.
And everybody was outside. Every single person from every single household comes out of their houses and into the roads. Half of them choose to be "standers" and the other half choose to be "greeters", but eventually you do meet up with every last one of your neighbors. It's almost like a race to see who can get around the whole block wishing everyone a Happy New Year first. And I think I did more of that Euro-cheek-kissing stuff on that night than I have in my entire life thus far. Just Random strangers. And no one questions the random American girl wishing them a "Happy New Year" among all the "gelukkige nieuwjaar"s.
Then it was off to a huge neighborhood gathering around the corner... a nice warm outdoor fire and gluwein (a drink oddly similar to Mulled Wine) for all!! Funnery, drunkeness, and embarrassing moments ensued.
It was just such a fun, random experience.
Anyway.... that was the craziness of that night in a nutshell.
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