Netherlands: Thousands of polar bears

 

Cold weather swimming, especially on New Years Day, has become a tradition in dozens of places around the world, but it seems to have found its true home in the Netherlands, where over 50,000 are estimated to have taken the plunge Wednesday.

Proportionally, that's like over a million Americans running like mad into freezing waters, or perhaps even several million when you consider that some parts of the U.S. (looking at you, Florida and California) don't even have cold water to run into.

In the Netherlands, the trend seems to have been spurred on by commercial sponsorship by Unox, a company that makes smoked sausages. The company started sponsoring the event shortly after the first one, 1965, in Scheveningen, and now sponsors it in 140 towns across the Netherlands. Participants receive an orange hat from the company, but not, apparently, sausages.

Photo: Some of the over-10,000 who took part at Scheveningen.

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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