Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Day One- Christmas in the Netherlands


The big event around Christmas time in the Netherlands is 'Sinterklaasavond' and the weeks before.
December 5 is 'Sinterklassavond' (St. Nicholas Eve). This is the day that Sinterklaas brings gifts to the Dutch children. But the activity has been going on for a few weeks before.
Sinterklaas and Zwarte Pieten
You see, it all starts on the second Saturday in November. Dutch tradition says that Sinterklaas (St. Nicholas) comes from Madrid, Spain. On this second Saturday of November, Sinterklaas and his servants 'Zwarte Pieten' (Black Peters) arrive in Holland. Every year, Sinterklaas picks a different harbor to arrive at, that way all the children get to see him. All the church bells ring as he arrives in his steamship, and Sinterklaas leads a procession through the street. Dutch children are told that good children get gifts and bad children get taken back to Spain to be taught how to behave.
Sinterklass is said to ride a horse and leave gifts. This is the main time that the children receive gifts during the Christmas season.
On the night of December 5, children leave a shoe out on a window sill. Some of them will put hay and carrots in the shoe to feed St. Nicholas' horse. They sing Sinterklaas songs.

On Christmas Eve, Santa Claus (Also called Christmas Man 'Kerstman', not to be confused with Sinterklaas) comes from Lapland, Finland and brings more gifts to the children.

Christmas Day is much quieter. It is celebrated on December 25 and 26, both days spent with family. They play games, sing carols, watch movies, read stories, and eat.
They will sometimes go to church, and they always have a special family meal. It consists of meat (venison, goose, hare, or turkey), plenty of veggies, and 'Kerstbrood' (Christmas bread). For dessert, there will be pudding and hot cocoa with plenty of whipped cream.

They eat plenty of other goodies as well. Some of them are 'oliebollen' (an oily dough nut), 'stollen' (a round bread with currents and raisins), almond pastry rings, 'marzipan', and chocolate 'Christmas rings'.

Some families will have a tree, an advent calendar or wreath, or a nativity scene.

So, 'Zalig Kerstfeest' (Merry/Happy Christmas) to you from the Netherlands!

dutch Christmas

1 comment:

  1. This is Day one of my 12 days of Christmas around the world posts. find the rest here: