The Inventory Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) in the Netherlands contains ICH of which the communities, groups or individuals involved have written a safeguarding plan. Those plans are reviewed by an independent review committee. Every three years an evaluation of the safeguarding takes place.


The midwinter horn is a large, slightly bent, wooden horn with a length of 4 to 5 feet. The horns are either glued together (dry horn) or hung in water, making the two halves swell and seamlessly fit onto each other, while hermetically closing the joints (wet horn). A removable mouthpiece is added, the hap, made of elder wood. It is a real winter tradition, as the horn is blown as of the first Advent Sunday, to announce the birth of Jesus. At Epiphany, on January 6, the final sounds are blown and the horns are put away again. There is a kind of standard for the melody, in Twente dialect called (the old call), in Achterhoek dialect it is called d’olde roop en on the Veluwe people say de olde rôep. Moreover various neighbourhoods and regions know their own melodies. Most of the time they are monotonous melodies, sometimes blown above a well to amplify the sound. Six natural tones can be blown with a midwinter horn, by adjusting the tension on the lips. The midwinter horn is always blown solo and the sound is a plaintive, melancholic tone that can be heard 4 or 5 miles away. The fact that it is usually blown at twilight, contributes to the mystical atmosphere that is associated with the midwinter horn.



There are individuals, hamlets, associations and groups that blow or make midwinter horns, or both.The blowers in Twente are united in the Stichting Midwinterhoornblazen Twente (Twente Midwinter Horn Blowing Foundation) and the midwinterhorn blowers of the Veluwe and the Achterhoek in the Federatie van Gelderse Midwinterhoorngroepen. More and more schools join the midwinter horn projects. There are competitions in midwinter horn blowing, with the aim to improve the quality of the blowing and promote the contacts between the blowers. The blowing is often passed on from (grand)parents to children. Nowadays midwinter horn courses are offered at music schools.



There is no agreement on the age of midwinter horn blowing. In the past horns were generally used by farmers to send messages and signals to each other over long distances, also in the eastern part of the Netherlands. An early illustration with horn blowing characters can be seen in the Utrecht Psalter from around 850 and in one of the works of Jheronimus Bosch an instrument is painted that looks a lot like a midwinter horn. The first description of a midwinter horn in the Netherlands is found in a letter to the burgomaster of Winterswijk in 1814. When the function of midwinter horn blowing got lost, the tradition was threatened, but it was decided to keep blowing in the midwinter period. 1949 was the first time that the midwinter horn was blown in an organised manner in Twente. Four years later a competition was set up. In the Achterhoek en on the Veluwe one started to blow more again too. All kinds of festivities in the winter period are now graced with the sounds of the midwinter horn, like walks, church services and Christmas markets.



Stichting Midwinterhoornblazen Twenthe
Oude Weerseloseweg 6
7595 MZ