Beschuit met muisjes
(pronunciation: , lit: "biscuits with little mice") is the traditional food served to celebrate the birth
of a baby
in the Netherlands
, though they also are eaten regularly outside of birth celebrations.
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
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
- Suikerbonen, or "sugar beans", are the equivalent food given on the occasion of a birth (or baptism) in neighbouring Flanders.