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 two years an evaluation of the safeguarding takes place.

Description

Every year, from December 27th up to December 31st, a number of inhabitants of Scheveningen are busy organising two large bonfires, one for Noorderstrand and one for Duindorp. Noorderstrand (the northern part of the beach) takes up the fight with its southern neighbours at Duindorp, to find out who can build the highest bonfire. The winner of this tradition may claim the title ‘highest bonfire of the Netherlands’ for one year. During the last days of December tens of thousands of pallets are taken to the beach and stacked according to a particular system. Hundreds of volunteers, young and old, work together to make the pile as high as possible. Many people take days off in this week, especially to help with the construction. The organisers of the bonfire make sure that the purchased and the sponsored pallets are taken to the beach in vans. The construction of the bonfire does not only take place during daytime, but in the evenings and nights too, come rain or shine. Around midnight, on New Year’s Eve, the time has finally come: the huge stack is lit and the whole of Scheveningen celebrates the New Year on the beach.

 

Community

For Scheveningen working on the bonfire has the character of a reunion. Children are involved in the bonfire at a very early age. The bonfire attracts more and more visitors in recent years, and tourists as well. Within the framework of the safety plan, the organisers keep in close contact with the municipality of The Hague, the police and the fire department.

 

History

The bonfire has its roots in the illegal Christmas tree burnings in various neighbourhoods of Scheveningen in the forties and fifties of the last century. During rausen, the term for gathering Christmas trees, mutual disputes among neighbourhoods were fought out as well. However, the social aspect was actually very important. Young people went out hunting Christmas trees together and tried to trump other neighbourhoods by making their fires bigger and bigger. Neighbour residents met at the construction of the stack and the sense of togetherness was strong. Fights, burglaries and vandalism made the municipality of The Hague prohibit the various bonfires. The city council then suggested to the neighbourhoods to build a common fire, on the Noorderstrand. The Scheveningers reluctantly consented, under the condition that the fire could be as high as possible. The battles were replaced by an organised competition on the beach. It became a contest for the ‘highest fire’ between the only two remaining bonfires in Scheveningen: Noorderstrand, (Scheveningen Village) and the Zuiderstrand (the southern part of the beach) of the city quarter called Duindorp in Scheveningen.

 

Contact

Vreugdevuur Scheveningen Noorderstrand
Website