How the Dutch start their year with a refreshing splash (and probably hypothermia): The New Year’s Dive at Scheveningen. Each year hundreds of Dutchies make their way to the beach at Scheveningen, and charge into the freezing waters.
How many times have you daydreamed about celebrating the New Year by jumping into a freezing ocean, experiencing the some of the symptoms of hypothermia, and then having a warm bowl of pea soup? Well, you can stop dreaming daily about that scenario, and head to the not-so-tropical beach of Scheveningen on January 1st 2019 for the New Year’s Dive.
What is The New Year’s Dive?
The ‘Nieuwjaarsduik’ (which literally translates to new year’s dive), is the yearly Dutch tradition of running into the freezing Winter waters of Scheveningen (AKA the unpronounceable word for foreigners), to celebrate the beginning of a new year.
Growing in popularity since the very first dive in January 1st 1965, the Nieuwjaarsduik began through the initiative of local resident and ex-canal swimmer Meneer van Scheijnde and 7 other human beings who were probably half-penguin, jumped willingly into the freezing water to celebrate the New Year. Since then, the event has grown amazingly in popularity, and hosts approximately 10,000 participants who run into the water every year!
Nowadays, people sign up to an official event organized by The Hague’s municipality, and is sponsored by the soup company UNOX. Guaranteeing in this way trained lifeguards, a ridiculously comfortable orange UNOX winter hat, a warm pea soup, and dozens of camera-men/women that are trained to capture the exact moment in which you regret making the decision to jump into the freezing water in exchange for soup.
Is this New Year’s dive a good idea?
Now, is this objectively a good idea? Absolutely not. Should you do it? Only if you were raised by polar bears and you have an obsession with pea soup. But hey, two amazing human parents raised me, I have no strong feelings towards soup in general, and I’ve jumped in twice. Why? It’s all about having a unique bonding experience with your friends and the Dutch.
I don’t know what it is exactly, but the whole experience is just very fun and cool (no pun intended… or was it?). Both years, sitting down with my friends to enjoy our soup after dipping in and out of the water, and talking about this 1st crazy day of the New Year, has been a great and fun way to start the year. It also feels really nice as a foreigner to be part of such a long-running Dutch tradition. Fear that you’ll be too hungover to make it all the way to Scheveningen? No worries, because you can enjoy this chilly event at other locations such as Amsterdam Amstel, Amsterdam Ijburg, Arnhem and Den Bosch.
Feeling fearless? Here is how to join the fun of the New Year’s Dive:
Signing up is easy and already available at The Hague’s official website, and believe it or not, there is a capacity limit for the officially hosted event that fills up fast! So if you’re up for a new and refreshing way to start your year, be sure to pitch this idea to your ‘New Year’s Eve’ group of family and/or friends (also, maybe have a few extra beers that night). Because hey, if you spend the first day of the new year running into freezing water with the New Year’s Dive, it’s all smooth sailing from there on.
Have you ever participated in this weird, cold event? Let us know in the comments below.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on 28 December 2018 but was updated for your reading pleasure on 19 December 2019.
Feature image: Alexander Fritze/Flickr.