Catholic Recipe: Luilakbollen
Also Called: Lazybones Cake
Lazybones, tucked in his bed, Rises at nine. Nine o'clock, half past nine, That is when You can see Lazybones
This is the derisive rhyme that greets the slothful Hans or Mientje who dawdles in bed on Luilak, the Dutch festival that comes on the Saturday before Whitsunday. In the Netherlands indolence is frowned upon at all times, but on Luilak, or Lazybones Day, the young person who naps late is the butt of taunts and teasings, and must treat his companions to sweets and cakes.
Luilak is a festival of youth that Amsterdam, Haarlem, Zaandam, and some other towns of western Holland celebrate. Grownups dread Luilak, but adolescents gleefully anticipate it from one year to the next. For they can raise an ear-splitting racket, stuff themselves with gingerbread, sweets, and Luilakbollen, or Lazybones Cakes, and play earthy pranks-all without fear of adult interference.
There are various interpretations of the origin of the Luilak festival. Doubtless the traditional ceremonies of noisemaking began in pagan spring fertility rites, now long forgotten. In popular thinking the name Luilak goes back only to 1672, and a watchman named Piet Lak. The legend is that Piet fell asleep at his post and in consequence the French invaded Holland. The inhabitants scornfully nicknamed the man Luie-Lak or Lazy-Lak, which in time became Luilak. From then on, all lazy ones who are still sleeping when they should be up and about, receive the uncomplimentary epithet of Luilakken.
The holiday begins at four in the morning on the Saturday before Pinkster, or Whitsunday. Hordes of young revelers surge through the streets, whistling, beating on pots and pans, pounding on doors, yelling, ringing bells, and making themselves generally obnoxious. There is no sleep for anyone, of course. And should some well-reared young person refuse to get up and join the fun, he risks the brand of "Lazybones" for the rest of the year.
At Zaandam and Haarlem, children make small wagons and decorate them with thistles and greens. They trundle the carts over the cobblestones until friction makes the wheels smoking hot. When the wagons catch fire, there are triumphal shouts. The youngsters either watch the blaze or dump the flaming mass into the canal.
Haarlem, which is in the center of Holland's flower-growing industry, celebrates Luilak with a flower fair in the Grote Markt, or Great Market. At midnight the bells of Saint Bavon's ring out and floodlights play across the market square. The scene is enchanting. Stall after stall of spring flowers stretch out in rainbow profusion. From midnight until eight in the morning Grote Markt is the kaleidoscopic backdrop for a thousand small dramas. Cumbersome hurdy-gurdies grind out wheezy dance tunes as youths grab pink-cheeked partners and waltz between the stalls. Herring vendors in native costume weigh out fish for eager buyers, while chocolate and gingerbread sellers exchange sweets for stuivers. And all about the square, old men and buxom women sit at small round tables and sip coffee from small cups. There are pastries, too, short spicy wafers, and Luilakbollen, which are baked like small double rolls, with sweet syrup over the top.
Dissolve yeast in lukewarm water. Scald the milk, add salt and butter, and stir until thoroughly combined. Add beaten egg, mix well, and when lukewarm add to the yeast mixture. Dredge raisins with a little of the flour. Gradually beat flour into the first mixture. Knead in raisins and peel. Set to rise until double in bulk (about 45 minutes) in greased covered bowl. Knead down and shape into small rolls, placed together in pairs. Brush with melted butter and let rise another 45 minutes. Bake about 15 minutes in moderately hot oven (350? F.)
Serve with Maple Cream Sauce, lemon or orange sauce, or a sauce made with any other kind of fresh or canned fruit juice (strawberry, pineapple, raspberry).Recipe Source: Feast-Day Cakes from Many Lands by Dorothy Gladys Spicer, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1960