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!

13 comments:

kjpweb said...

That's a nice read. I recently got Muisjes in a package from the Netherlands - I love Anijs!!
Still got Anijsblockjes from De Ruijter - to drink with warm milk! :)
Some thing are hard to get by in the States - Anijs is, though it's known, rareley used over here.
So it was nice to read about muisjes!
Cheers, Klaus

reader Wil said...

Hi Klaus, that's nice that you should like Anijs! Because when my granddaughter was born in Australia in 1998 we treated all Australian visitors to beschuit met muisjes , and you should have seen their faces!

Old Lady Lincoln said...

What a wonderful story. I've been trying to think of some traditions we have and right off hand I can't think of any. Probably because we've done them so often I don't think of it as being a tradition. If I think of something I will come back and let you know. Have a terrific evening my friend.

Louis la Vache said...

Enjoyable post - and "Louis' learned something!

(Editor to "Louis": "It's about time you learned something!"

"Louis" to Editor: 'Why don't you learn to shut your mouth?')

Over at San Francisco Bay Daily Photo, we have a dance between the moon and the fog at midnight.

reader Wil said...

Hi Patty do find some American traditions! Well actually you have a lot, like Flagday, Thanksgiving day and you wrote about them not so long ago. I got this idea because somebody wrote about a babyshower, which we don't have in Holland and yet is such a nice idea.

reader Wil said...

Tell Louis he amuses me with his dialogues between the editor and himself. I always feel in a good mood after a good laugh.Louis is very entertaining.

Jerez said...

I buy those sprinkles at a local store, but didn't know all about them, thank you! I use those cubes, too anise flavor..any history about that or special use-ages?

reader Wil said...

Jerez thanks for the comment. As I wrote in my entry "beschuit met muisjes"is eaten after the birth of a baby.This tradition goes back to the 17th century.

Dina said...

When I volunteered in Switzerland a young Dutch pastor would always bring boxes of colored sprinkles as a gift to the Sisters. Then we would all have them on bread and butter during morning break time.
Nice memories.
I guess your muisjes in the post are a bit different. Nice custom.

reader Wil said...

Thanks Dina for the visit and the story going with it. It's a better tradition than wetting the baby's head.

Vic Grace said...

I remember eating those biscuits in England when I was a kid. I have never seen them here in Canada

kRiZ cPEc said...

thanks for sharing, an interesting custom to celebrate newborns. Good day!

Sara said...

I stopped by to see your "W" photos, and then saw this post....this tradition is totally new to me; I've never before heard about it. Very interesting...I love that those little sugared anise balls are called mice! And that they come in blue and pink for boys and girls.