Posts Tagged "Sinterklaas"


Sinterklaas Celebrations

Sinterklaas Celebrations


Posted on Dec 3, 2014

Sinterklaasvond is an important traditional celebration in the Netherlands and we’ll be serving some traditional Pepernoten with coffee at Dutchies on the 5th of December.  Sinterklaas is a traditional (and very important) figure in Dutch culture based on Saint Nicholas. He is elderly, stately and serious with a ling full beard. He wears a red cape, a white bishop’s alb and a red mitre. He also has a ruby ring and a long golden shepherd’s staff with a fancy top. He is one of the sources of Santa Claus. Most importantly he carries a big book that tells whether each child has been naughty or nice in the last year. Sinterklaas is accompanied by Zwarte Piet his companion who has a black face, black curly hair and is dressed like a 17th Century page. Traditionally Zwarte Piet was said to be a moor from Spain but as concerns over racism have arisen some have said he is black from climbing through the chimneys to deliver gifts. This issue has become increasingly controversial but tradition seems to prevail and in a recent survey most Dutch people said they did not associate Zwarte Piet with slavery or racism and were opposed to changing his appearance. Sinterklaas arrives in the Netherlands each year in mid-November by steamboat from Spain. He then parades through the streets on his white horse where children welcome him and Zwarte Piet with cheering and singing traditional Sinterklaas songs. Zwarte Piet (there are often several of them – Zwarte Pieten) throw sweets and cookies, usually kruidnoten or pepernoten, into the crowds. The entire event if televised in the Netherlands and in Belgium. All towns with a dock celebrate the arrival of Sinterklaas and inland he arrives by train, cart or even a fire engine. Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet carry a bag which contains the treats they toss to the children and some old Sinterklaas songs refer to naughty children being put in the bag and taken back to Spain. In between his arrival and the 5th of December, Sinterklaas visits schools, hospitals and shopping centres. The 5th of December is Saint Nicholas’ Eve and is the main day for giving gifts. The evening is called Sinterklaasavond or Pakjesavond (“gifts evening”, or literally “packages evening”). Somehow the presents arrive at a family’s house. Either a note is found explaining where to find them or a neighbour will dress up as Zwarte Piet and deliver them to the door. They are then placed in the living room much like on Christmas Day here in South Africa and the present opening begins. On the 6th of December, Sinterklaas leaves and the...

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Vrolijk Kerstfeest

Vrolijk Kerstfeest


Posted on Dec 24, 2013

In the Netherlands Christmas is celebrated over 2 days,  Eerste Kerstdag (First Christmas Day) on December 25 and Tweede Kerstdag (Second Christmas Day) on December 26, both of which are public holidays. This may seem similar to what you know here in South Africa but things are actually quite different in the Netherlands. Christmas is not about Santa Claus bringing gifts on a sleigh with reindeer. It is about the ambience, the food and your loved ones. Children do get gifts but not at Christmas. The Dutch celebrate Sinterklaas (St Nicholas Day) on the 5th of December and this is when the children receive their gifts. Christmas is about a cosy atmosphere. Christmas trees are decorated with glittery pine cones, glass balls, golden nuts and candles. Advent star lights are put in windows and each town square has a large brightly lit Christmas tree. At Christmas you will find old-fashioned food stalls selling doughnuts, oliebollen and appelflappen, flower sellers who offer beautiful wreathes, poinsettias, holly, mistletoe and decorated pine cones, and you will hear Christmas carillon music (an instrument made up of many bells)  played everywhere. Christmas is family time and it is only recently (and confusingly) that de Kerstman (Santa Claus) is trying to edge in on the traditional Dutch Christmas. Some families attend late night Christmas services together and then eat an early breakfast of kersstol (Christmas loaf) with butter and luxury goodies like pates and smoked salmon. Whether religious or not, Dutch people spend Christmas relaxing at home with their loved ones and eat course after course of delectable dishes. Gourmetten is probably the most typical Dutch meal at Christmas. A grill is placed on the table and everyone cooks their bite sized chunks of meat and vegetables themselves. The second day of Christmas is spent visiting family and friends, doing something together as a family like going ice skating and most definitely – eating left overs! We hope that you enjoy a Christmas filled with love, loved ones, Christmas sparkle and delectable...

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