December 15 – Midwinter Horn Blowing in the Netherlands

Posted on December 15, 2013

When a custom is designed to ward off bad spirits, and you no longer believe in bad spirits...what happens to the custom?

I am glad to say that many people still carry on old-time traditions, often with a more fun, less fearful, attitude. One tradition is Midwinterhoornblazen, which is Dutch for Midwinter Horn Blowing. 

(I love how German and Dutch people glue all their words together into one long word. That's not confusing at all!)

Check out the horn blowing here and here. Notice that at least some of the horn blowers are wearing traditional wooden shoes!

The horns are made from one-year-old elder saplings and are three to four feet long. Many Dutch people make their own horns. Apparently out in the country, many Dutch farmers stand by their wells as they blow their horns, and the deep wells magnify the sounds. I imagine that you could hear the faint, haunting sounds of horn blowers from far away; I read that as farmer wait until their neighbors' songs are ending before they pick up the tune and continue.

Even though it isn't even winter yet - winter begins on December 21 this year - let alone MIDwinter, the Midwinterhoornblazen begins in early December and continues every day until Christmas.

You can do some midwinter horn blowing yourself, if you have a horn. If not, you can use a recorder or whistle, or you can make a horn from toilet paper rolls or drinking straws

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