New Year’s Dive
Nieuwjaarsduik (pronounced nyu-yars-dowk) literally translates to "New Year’s Dive". It is the annual Dutch tradition of running into the freezing winter waters of the North Sea to celebrate the beginning of a new year.
The home of the New Year’s Dive is Scheveningen, a seaside suburb of The Hague with a name that is so famously unpronounceable by non-native Dutch speakers that it was used as a shibboleth to distinguish Germans from the Dutch during the 1940 Nazi invasion of The Netherlands.
Nieuwjaarsduik began life on 1 January 1965 when local Scheveningen resident and ex-Channel swimmer Jan van Scheijndel and seven other brave souls willingly jumped into the freezing water to celebrate the New Year. A fresh start.
Since then, the event has grown steadily in popularity, and now happens simultaneously in several coastal towns and villages throughout The Netherlands. The official Scheveningen event involving 10,000+ participants is organised by the Municipality of The Hague, and is sponsored these days by the soup company UNOX. UNOX provides trained lifeguards, a distinctive orange UNOX beanie, and a free bowl of warm pea soup for all involved. 2016 event highlights video HERE.
Some participants dress up in costumes, and the event is often accompanied by music and other festivities. Some also take the opportunity to raise money for charity by taking part in the dive. It’s a unique community event and great way for people to bond with friends, and with the Dutch.
In more recent years the Nieuwjaarsduik has done some travelling. The most famous dive outside of The Netherlands happens on the other side of the world at Bondi Beach. In the late afternoon on New Years Day the Dutch gather in droves on the hot summer sands in front of the Life Guard tower in the middle of the beach, and by the designated 4pm kickoff (timed to correspond with 7am in The Netherlands) almost 1,000 Dutchies, all wearing identical orange UNOX beanies, run into the not-so-freezing blue waters of Bondi. Bondi Rescue video HERE.
Bondi locals are getting used to it, but it can be a bit confusing for tourists. Why are are there so many Dutch people gathered, and what on earth are they doing in those beanies? Needless to say, the after parties in Bondi are less about pea soup and more about DJs and Dutch beer. The event in Bondi has become a spectacle and a lovely way for Dutch ex pats in Sydney to reveal themselves to one another.
Unox Nieuwjaarsduik 2016 | Aftermovie
Dutch New Year's Tradition Takes Over Bondi
1, 2, 3. Unox Nieuwjaarsduik 2016
4. UNOX Beanie
5. New Year's Dive
6. Post Dive Pea Soup
7 & 8. Bondi Beach 2020
9. Bondi Beach 2023
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