Around these parts, the Dutch traditionally celebrate New Year’s Eve with the traditional practice of carbideschieten – carbide shooting. It involves getting a milkchurn with a small hole in the base. Pop some calcium carbide into water for a moment, then put it in the milkchurn and close the churn with the lid or a football. When calcium carbide comes into contact with water, acetylene gas is produced. This is highly inflammable, so wait a little while, then apply a naked flame to the hole in the base of the churn. A most satisfyingly loud bang results, and the milkchurn acts as a cannon, firing the lid or the football at high speed through the air. The Dutch take great delight in doing this. They use the excuse that traditionally it was done to scare away evil spirits at the New Year, but I think it’s solely because it makes a very loud noise and will annoy any passing Health and Safety personnel.

On the afternoon of New Year’s Eve, the whole neighbourhood was echoing to a sustained cannonade as various parties tried to outdo each other in carbideschieten. Accompanied by mulled wine, oliebollen and snert, a great time was had by all.


About Geoff Coupe

I'm a British citizen, although I have lived and worked in the Netherlands since 1983. I came here on a three year assignment, but fell in love with the country, and one Dutchman in particular, and so have stayed here ever since. On the 13th December 2006 I also became a Dutch citizen.
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