Thursday, 19 June 2008
What are your traditions?
Beschuit met muisjes (pronunciation: “bə'sxœyt mЄt 'mœyςəs”, lit: “biscuits with little mice”) is the traditional food served to celebrate the birth of a baby in the Netherlands (Note, beschuit met muisjes are eaten regularly even if there is no birth celebration).
Beschuit are similar to rusks but a little softer. In the United Kingdom they are sold as Dutch crisp bakes. They are round, and are prepared by baking a small cylindrical bread, cutting it in half and baking a second time. They are spread with butter (or margarine) and the muisjes (lit. ‘little mice’) are sprinkled on top. These muisjes are sugared aniseed balls. They are sold in a mixture of two colours: White and pink. In 1990 a new mixture was introduced: white and blue, and it has become a custom, but not a universal one, that the latter (blue) are served when a boy is born, and the former (pink) for a girl. When a child is born in to the royal House of Orange, orange muisjes are sold.
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 bread with sugar on top.
Every country has its traditions. They start from the moment we are born, then when we get older and leave school or get married. Even death has its special tradition of seeing the deceased off. Some traditions are very beautiful. Now you can read about the tradition of eating "beschuit met muisjes". Don't try to pronounce it, you won't succeed!