Picture of an apple pie and candles

Copyright Liz BlackX
The apple pie of my 8th birthday, including the hem of my dress in the background

Because I didn’t live with my mother past age eleven, there weren’t any family traditions passed on to me. My father was busy working and didn’t have a lot of time to spend with his family. Since I’m not in contact with any of my family members, I can’t learn from them either. I went through my photo album but didn’t discern any family traditions – except for one. Every year my father would bake me an apple pie for my birthday, usually with my age spelt out in dough on top. He continued doing this for a long time. It was a tradition I loved, even though I missed out on fancy cakes with figurines on top like my classmates had. I’m not sure I even really loved it as a kid, but looking back, I can see how special it was.

Vacation

Another thing stood out: we would always go on vacation. Never far away, always within The Netherlands, but we would go nonetheless.
I remember for eight years in a row we went to the same establishment near the beach. We would rent a cottage for two weeks. Once there, we would have many outings to the beach, to the small town we stayed in and to cities nearby. I always enjoyed myself.
Sometimes we would also rent a cottage in a forest area during autumn or spring for a weekend or midweek. This too was a lot of fun.

I call it a tradition from my past because it’s something we stopped doing. We never go on vacation anymore. My husband hates not sleeping in his own bed. We also have four cats to take care of. It’s not entirely my husband’s fault. I’m not so eager to arrange it all, and a vacation is often expensive. I do miss it. It might be something to consider after Covid.

Religion

We have no religious traditions in my family. My mother’s family was Roman Catholic, my father’s family, well, nothing. I wasn’t raised with any religion, apart from being baptized and going to church with Easter and Christmas occasionally.
All I’ve taken from my family is the love for things spiritual. My paternal grandmother was into all things spiritual and wanted me to join in her footsteps. I read the tarot cards now and then. Since last week I’ve also picked up my daily meditations again. The practice makes me calmer and better equipped to deal with the current lockdown and curfew.

‘Gourmetten’

Our ‘gourmetten’ table Christmas 2019
This wasn’t all of it, I miss my handmade sauces and the rest of the meat 😉

Our holiday traditions are also scarce. A national tradition is ‘gourmetten.’ It’s a dinner where the table is stacked with small pieces of raw meat, like mini-hamburgers. In the centre of the table is a heating device with little pans and you can bake the meat yourself. Next to this are bowls with salads and of course many snack sauces.
I also succumbed to the pressure and apply this tradition every Christmas when my mother- and sister in law come over. Only once did I make a full Christmas dinner by myself, but all I remember is being mightily stressed out, and then there are always people who don’t like what you have made. To me, gourmetten is the perfect solution with little work for the host, and there’s always something for everyone.

Top 2000

As I wrote before in my post about the Top 2000, that phenomenon has become a tradition in my country. It feels like something we have adopted as a tradition for lack of something better, in all honesty. But it’s a wonderful tradition and one I always look forward to. It begins with voting for your favourite songs in the first week of December and continues with listening to these songs when number 2000 is played on December 25th. The love of music brings people together, even last year when no parties were possible.

‘Kniepertjes’

My mother in law does keep another tradition which she shares with the Northern region of The Netherlands. It’s baking ‘kniepertjes’. They are sweet, thin, crispy cookies that are meant to bake yourself so you can give them to friends and family on January 1st. At least, that’s what I have learned over the years. My family wasn’t originally from these parts, so it’s not a tradition in my family. I think it’s a fun tradition and one that I plan on continuing on.

Few Traditions Left

Here in The Netherlands, and really all of the Western world, we are an individualistic society with little communal traditions left. We don’t go to church anymore, family ties aren’t as important as they used to be. Life feels a bit empty because of this, also because I seem to have lost the few traditions I did have in my life. I think it’s time for me to cherish the few I have left and maybe bring in some new ones where possible. I will definitely go on a holiday again once we are passed this pandemic. And, who knows, maybe even bake a birthday special apple pie too 🙂

4Thoughts

6 Comments

  1. The apple pie thing for your birthday was a bit special – i think <3
    I do think in these times tradition are sooo important -they give our life/time meaning and purpose. It is truly a shame they lessen by the year
    May xx

    1. We watched a British documentary last December about the 12 days of Christmas traditions in Tudor times. That’s what really got me thinking about traditions. They had twelve full days filled with activities built around traditions and over here, in my current time, we have zilch. That’s what made me kinda sad.

      Lizblackx
  2. My family took “the same” vacation{s} repeatedly when I was growing up, similar to what you describe with your dad. I realize now, as an adult managing a household budget, that part of the reason for my parents repeating the vacays that way was due to financial constraints. I always enjoyed myself though (mostly… minus the step-sibling horridness…), and I have traveled back to my home state a few times in recent years to accompany my sister and her kids on those same sorts of getaways. 🙂

    I think the apple pie tradition is really cool! I’m sure it mightn’t have felt like that when you were a kid, but looking back — what a wonderful, unique-to-YOU tradition that was! So sweet. 🙂

    1. It was probably for financial reasons my parents chose to do it this way. I think they saw no need for expensive flights or luxury hotels. And it was near the beach, far away from our usual environment, so very special to me as a kid 😄

      The apple pie tradition was unique, but they weren’t the luxury cakes I saw my friends had from an upscale bakery with a barbie doll on top or a printed picture as decoration (which was very special in the 80s :p). But I love how he put in the effort to make one every birthday, with my help of course 😁

      Lizblackx
  3. We are also creatures of habit, going to the same place whenever we allow ourselves time away from home. Like your husband, mine prefers to sleep in his own bed, although he does like the occasional hotel stay. And then we end up going to the same hotels over and over. And yes, the Top 2000 has definitely become a national tradition, and I love it. And then of course what we have been seeing the past days… skating outside is one of our countries traditions too 😉
    ~ Marie

    1. Once upon a time we went skating with the whole class during high school. But that was a long time ago and with my current athletic status, I wouldn’t dare it today. And tomorrow the snow will be melting away, today where you live 🙂

      Lizblackx

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