Its funny; I have always been proud of my Dutch heritage, but seldom payed attention to it (only once a year when the whole family gets together for my Opa’s birthday). Now that I am having my first child however, I am starting to wish that my mom had instilled a more traditional Dutch upbringing in us, and that I knew all the traditions and even how to speak the language PROPERLY. Alas, she did now, so I had to google it… well, lets be honest, I did know some of the traditions, but wasn’t aware of the reasons or authenticity.
Traditions: Beschuit met muisjes
This is a super cool idea – and I am lucky that a friend of mine gave me a box of blaauw en witte muisjes (blue and white mice) so all I need to get still are the beschuiit (rusks). These are given to visitors and often colleagues of the father, as a celebration, kind of like the cigar tradition, only much yummier!
The tradition of celebrating a birth with beschuit met muisjes goes back to the 17th century. At that time the muisjes were white for a boy. Later this changed to blue. It was thought that the anise was good for the mother’s milk, that it would ease the contractions in the womb, and that it would drive away evil spirits. The name ‘muisjes’ was derived from their resemblance to the shape of a mouse, with the stem of the anise seed resembling a tail, as well as the fact that the mouse was seen as a fertility symbol. Beschuit met muisjes was originally eaten only by the upper class. The lower classes would celebrate a birth by eating white breadwith sugar on top.
Geboortekaartjes (Birth announcements)
This tradition seems to have caught on around the world. I think its cute, and a very nice way to let family and friends know baby is here and what he/she looks like. My original idea was to print some and send out once Elijah was born, but we decided that since its silly season and posting is a nightmare as well as getting to a printshop, we just emailed everyone.