Local Heart, Global Soul

January 3, 2010

A Dutch baby Tradition: “Beschuit met Muisjes”

Filed under: Dutch Traditions: Baby,PHOTOGRAPHY,Traditionally Dutch — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

There are several very typically Dutch traditions that celebrate the arrival of a  Baby, and here’s one of them: “Beschuit met muisjes”

First, what is Beschuit? It’s kind of toasted bread, but crunchy and dry like a cracker, always round in shape… but no sorry, but there is no exact literal translation for this word into English… it’s something that is (I think) unique to the Netherlands and doesn’t have an exact counterpart elsewhere in the world.

“Muisjes”   in Dutch literally means ” little mice” but no they are not mice ! They are little sugar coated aniseeds, and these days  they come in three colours… white, blue and pink.  Some say that the ” mouse” association came about because when the aniseeds are dipped into the sugar mixture a little  mouse-like “tail” sometimes forms around the stalk.  Aniseed is known to stimulate milk production in nursing mothers and was believed in the 17th Century to give protection from spirits from the mother and baby so maybe that’s why Aniseed is the traditional flavour.

Dutch tradition is that when a baby arrives, visitors who come to see the new infant are treated to “ Beschuit met muisjes”,  and this is where a Beschuit is smeared with butter or margaine and then either pink and white ( for a girl) or blue and white ( for a boy) muisjes are spread on top . For convenience today’s packets of muisjes come with the pink and white or blue and white colours already mixed together.

To celebrate  birth of the daughters of the Crown Prince of the Netherlands (Willem-Alexander, Prince of Orange), a special edition of the muisjes was released for a short time  in the colour Orange. (Orange is also the Dutch national colour)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Even during the Middle Ages it was already an established tradition that new mothers would entertain visitors who came to see their infants with something special to eat and drink. The birth of a child was well celebrated and therefore the whole neighbourhood would be included.

Very soon after the birth the visitors would start to stream in. The local children were treated to something especially delicious that the new arrival had “ brought with them” It is not known precisely when the tradition of Beschuit met muisjes began but various sources point to the Middle Ages and around the 17th Century in particular.

Earlier Beschuit was used alone in white as a festive treat, and was a luxury that only the wealthy could afford. A thick sugared beschuit was a real treat that celebrated the birth of a child. For commoners  there was sugared white bread as a more affordable alternative.

These treats were on offer for us when we visited a new baby boy in the neighbourhood…
so what you are being served here today however, is the real Beschuit met muisjes !

23 Comments »

  1. What a beautiful tradition. Learning so much about your customs that I was completley unaware of.

    Comment by Rita — January 3, 2010 @ 12:21 pm | Reply

  2. I wish we had ANY KIND OF TRADITION here in America. That was wonderful. Thank you!

    Comment by Baby Jogger Stroller — January 3, 2010 @ 2:04 pm | Reply

  3. I agree with Rita, that’s a beautiful tradition. Ummm…you wouldn’t happen to have a recipe for Beschuit, would you?

    Comment by blisterina — January 3, 2010 @ 11:47 pm | Reply

    • I found this recipe 🙂 http://www.thedutchtable.com/2011/10/beschuit-met-muisjes.html

      Comment by Jess — September 3, 2015 @ 11:57 pm | Reply

      • Thank You Jess,
        I’m not sure how many people would go to the trouble of making this tricky bake when it’s so cheap and readily available in very supermarket.
        When baking and cooking (for me) it’s a matter of “pick your battles” and that’s one battle that I personally couldn’t be bothered with LOL 🙂
        The trick to buttering them without breaking the Beschuit is to not have your butter too hard… well at least that helps!
        Many thanks for sending me the link, it’s much appreciated.

        Comment by kiwidutch — September 4, 2015 @ 9:57 am | Reply

      • Hey, thanks!!! 😀

        Comment by Luddy's Lens — September 20, 2015 @ 9:36 pm | Reply

      • Luddy, No problem ! 🙂

        Comment by kiwidutch — September 23, 2015 @ 8:30 am | Reply

  4. Thanks for the lovely comments. We have a whole range of Baby treat traditions and once I get some photo organised I will be posting more of them 🙂 No, sorry, no recipe… everyone always buys Beschuit ready made from the shop, but I sometimes frequent a baker’s Forum (Dutch language) so I could at least ask 🙂

    Comment by kiwidutch — January 4, 2010 @ 7:41 am | Reply

  5. Hello. I’m writing an article for American Baby magazine called “Baby Traditions From Around the World” and would love to speak with you about this special Dutch tradition.

    I can be reached via my Facebook page: facebook.com/pam.hansell
    Or via e-mail: (edited by Kiwidutch for privacy)

    Thank you so much and I look forward to hearing from you. I’m on a rather tight deadline, so if you would have the chance to chat this week that would be fantastic!

    Sincerely,
    Pam Hansell
    American Baby

    Comment by Pam — August 24, 2010 @ 2:57 pm | Reply

    • Pam, just back home late after a full day out, will email you first thing tomorrow. I’ve edited your comment to remove your email addy so that you don’t get hit by spam bots, yes? Talk to you soonest… regards.. Kiwidutch 🙂

      Comment by kiwidutch — August 24, 2010 @ 8:46 pm | Reply

  6. Holy moly, that looks incredible. I’ve never experimented with cuisine from the Netherlands…I’m sure it will be delicious.

    Comment by baby samples — February 7, 2011 @ 7:51 am | Reply

    • These come in blue/white for baby boys and pink/white for baby girls. They taste of aniseed and are a lovely treat to have when someone has a baby.

      Comment by kiwidutch — February 14, 2011 @ 4:23 pm | Reply

  7. Thans for such a great explanation. I used your link today for my blog.
    Greetings from Georgia/USA

    Mariette’s Back to Basics

    Comment by Mariette VandenMunckhof-Vedder — May 24, 2011 @ 4:28 am | Reply

  8. Thanks of course…

    Comment by Mariette VandenMunckhof-Vedder — May 24, 2011 @ 4:29 am | Reply

  9. i’ve just sent your very nice explanation to a large group of friends, all over the world! of course i’ve got them here as well… to offer my guests to celebrate the birth of my first grandson today – in paris! at his last visit to holland in april, my son bought a whole lot of ‘beschuiten’ en ‘muisjes’, but also didn’t forget to buy loads of ‘stroopwafels’… thank you!

    Comment by lydia de vries — June 23, 2012 @ 5:26 pm | Reply

    • You are most welcome Lydia,
      … glad that my explanation helps you explain this very Dutch tradition to friends and family all around the world…and of course Congratulations are in order for the arrival of your new grandson! I suspect you will help him discover *many* Dutch treats as he grows up. We also have French friends who adore Dutch goodies so if we go to visit we also are sure to take them as gifts.

      Comment by kiwidutch — June 24, 2012 @ 7:31 am | Reply

  10. OM-gosh! Very informative, thats a great tradition. We celebrate death w/ funerals. Why not the life of a new baby what a beautiful celebration.

    Comment by mentalnotes1 — December 22, 2012 @ 12:10 am | Reply

    • Welcome to my blog mentslnotes1,
      Glad you liked this post… yes there are baby traditions here and this isn’t just the only one either… I’ll have to do more posts on some of the others in the future 🙂

      Comment by kiwidutch — December 22, 2012 @ 10:19 am | Reply

  11. […] A Dutch baby Tradition: “Beschuit met Muisjes” […]

    Pingback by Babies In Blankets, Lined Up In Rows… | Local Heart, Global Soul — November 28, 2014 @ 1:01 am | Reply

  12. […] of attachment to it because they love it until they become adults .When we had our daughter,we had Beschuit met Muisjes. It’s a tradition  in  the Netherlands once a baby is born. It’s a crispy biscuit […]

    Pingback by Oh God, My Husband is Dutch ! | justbluedutch — January 11, 2016 @ 7:40 pm | Reply

  13. Reblogged this on Truth Troubles: Why people hate the truths' of the real world.

    Comment by oldpoet56 — April 18, 2016 @ 8:06 pm | Reply

  14. Where can we buy this in nyc

    Comment by Mei — October 10, 2016 @ 8:04 pm | Reply


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