The Dutch tradition began in 1960 in Zandvoort through the initiative of a local swim club. The sponsorship of a big soup brand, Unox, increased the exposure of the event.
More than 40,000 people across the country took part in the tradition, choosing from over 60 locations where people can dive into the sea or lake.
Participants receive a red cap, pennant and soup in a tin as part of the experience.
A fancy costume was the order of the day for many other revellers across Europe – Berlin, Rome, Dunkirk in France - who jumped into chilly waters to mark the new year.
Members of Berlin's Winter Swimming Association the Sea Lions said they found the icy dip refreshing.
Sixty-one-year-old Marina Hunger said the swim has great health benefits.
"It's quite cold but the body gets used to it,” she told AP news agency.
“As a consequence, it brings you stable health, less infections, mental and psychological tranquillity and less liability to stress - so really great effects."
Fellow swimmer Harry, 66, said he uses icy dips as a remedy for the flu.
"I have little colds and it brings a vitality. When you come out you feel much fresher. That is pleasant, very pleasant. And it's just a matter of the head, everybody can do this."