Last night was the 5th of December here. This is where Sinterklaas is celebrated in the homes in the Netherlands. You could think of the the evening of the 5th of December as being the same as the morning of the 25th of December in Australia.
The only main difference I noted was that the presents were not under a tree, but they were in a bag (Sinterklaas’s bag!) that was brought down from upstairs when the time was right. So after watching some very important shows on TV (Dutch soaps), Fem and her mum went upstairs to bring down the bag.
We then had drinks and yummy nibbiles (including Fem’s delicious apple turnovers) on the table while Auke, handed out the presents. The presents were unwrapped one at a time so everyone can see your reaction and enjoyment. I was very happy and surprised with what I received. This included:
- A book called The Undutchables which is an accurate and humorous take on life in the Netherlands.
- A soft bicycle seat cover to help my not yet fully formed biker’s bum.
- A sample of local Waalwijk beers and liqueurs.
- A giant M in rich milk chocolate. Yum!
It is Dutch tradition to give small poems along with the gifts on Sinterklaas. Fem and her parents got their Dutch poems first, and with my final present I got my poem as well.
I have attached a copy of it below as I thought it was very sweet and well done!
On the 15th of November, the Netherlands celebrated the arrival of Sinterklaas!
This involved watching the main parade on TV that day. Each year Sinterklaas arrived via ship to one Dutch town that has a harbour. There he on top of his white horse and his dozens of Black Pete assistants then hand out candy and treats to the delighted children and parade through the city. They end up at the town hall where there is a speech by that town’s mayor and there is plenty of celebration all around. The theme this year was red balloons. So there are red balloons attached to all the major landmarks around the Netherlands.
Obviously from Australia’s perspective Sinterklaas is like our Santa Claus, and the Black Pete’s are the elves.
One attraction of the whole parade is that there are always things that “go wrong”, and it’s interesting to watch and see how the Black Petes get Sinterklaas out of the trouble. This year his boat got “stuck” in the harbour. They solved that issue by attaching all these red balloons to the ship and that lifted it high over the obstacle.
Also Sinterklaas’s main chair at the town hall was destroyed by a parachuting Black Pete who landed on it. The TV kept cutting back to this poor Pete who was desperately trying to get a replacement chair before the parade snaked it’s way to Town Hall. Of course he comes up with comical alternatives such as a toilet, a wheelchair and a really tiny chair, but just before Sinterklaas arrived he was able to get the correct chair replaced in time! It’s all good fun and quite entertaining to watch.
On the 16th, each Dutch town gets their own Sinterklaas parade. Obviously it’s smaller than they main one on TV the previous day, but it’s still good to see everyone out and about. There were lots of Black Petes doing acrobatic dances and jumps and plenty handing out candy to all the children. Most of the children had bags to catch all the candy in
Below are the shots from the parade in Waalwijk.
Up until the 5th of December, each morning when you wake up, there might be some chocolate waiting for you. This is what Fem and I received this morning from Fem’s parent. We also give them sweet treats every few mornings as well!
Then on the 5th of December, we would then exchange small gifts. (no this does not occur on the 25th )