The New Year’s tradition of eating oliebollen, or dense balls of fried dough, is practiced in which country?

And the answer: The Netherlands.
Photo credit: Eneas De Troya.

In the Netherlands, the Dutch eat oliebollen, or dense balls of fried dough, on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. The unique dish is often referred to as the original donut, and the round shape is thought to bring good luck, as it represents the idea of coming full circle.

While the Dutch snack on balls of fried dough and the Spanish drop gold rings into their drinks for good luck, it’s no secret that New Years celebrations take on different forms around the world. Naturally, cultural New Years traditions have had quite a long time to develop, as the earliest recorded festivities date back some 4,000 years to ancient Babylon. Julius Caesar was the first to declare January 1st a national holiday, and named the month after Janus, the Roman god of doors and gates. Janus had two faces, one looking forward and one looking back, which Caesar thought would be fitting for the first month of the year.  

Nowadays, various cultures celebrate the new year and throw out the old in any way they see fit. In Canada, some do a “polar bear plunge” to ring in the new year, where they dip into a freezing body of water to cleanse themselves of the past year. Meanwhile, in Russia, wishes for the new year are written on a piece of paper and burned, before the ashes are then dropped into a glass of champagne and drunk (that’s one way to get a smoky aftertaste…). Other cultures have traditions such as letting a drop of cream land on the floor on New Year's Day for good luck (Switzerland), eating a stack of pancakes (France), or even sleeping at a cemetery to honor the dead (Chile)!

Did you know?

Yesterday was New Year’s Day! The beginning of January marks a time where many people around the world set resolutions for the coming year. In fact, around 38.5% of U.S. adults set New Year’s resolutions yearly, and health-related resolutions are among the most popular. Are you setting a New Year's resolution goal? Learn more about how to follow-through on your betterment in the new year here.

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