Dec 5, 2009


Its that day of the year again in The Netherlands. Santa Claus is coming – or as the Dutch call him; 'Sintaklaas'.

Yes, that’s right, in Holland, Hollanda, Pays Bas, The Neths., little and grown up kids everywhere, are paid a visit by St. Nikolaas the 'good holy man', sometime during the evening of December 5th. – which also happens to be ‘the Sints’ birthday.

Bishop Nicholas of Myra, Turkey, as he originally was - except that little Dutch children are told that he now lives in Spain - travels to Holland every year towards the end of November in his steamboat; accompanied by his piebald horse 'Amerigo' and a bevy of 'Zwarte Pieten' or Moorish helpers. (Except, I have had this nagging suspicion - ever since seeing black make up on the Chief Piet's ruff (aha!) - that they are not real Moores, but rather a large group of Dutch chappies, with their faces painted black and dressed in brightly coloured silk knickerbockers and jackets, with black hose and a jaunty feather in their hats). But whoever they are, these Pieten will then dance through the streets of Holland and into the shops, throwing handfuls of sweets and pepernoten - pepper nuts - at throngs of delighted, excited children.

In the lead up to Dec. 5th. - the kids may periodically place one of their shoes on the window ledge of their bedrooms, or by the fireplace if they have one, complete with a carrot for Amerigo - and one of the Pieten will ..er.. break into the house, take the carrot and leave a small token gift in the shoe.

But December the 5th. is the really Big Day (!) - and I have been invited to share in this one, at my youngest daughter’s house this evening, where we will wait for that loud knocking on the windows and ringing on the doorbell, that will announce that Sint and his Pieten have galloped by and left a huge box of presents outside the front door..!!
Except that Grandma will not be in the room, because she will have left just a minute before to ‘spend a penny’ (darn this old bladder!) and after carrying what will seem like a whole toyshop, on tiptoe, out of the shed and placing it by the front door and banging on the windows and ringing the bell, will have just made it back into the downstairs toilet - a split second before…

‘Presents! Presents!’ The kiddies will burst from the sitting room into the hall, eyes and mouths wide and almost wetting their own pants with excitement…!
‘Oh, how wonderful!’ Mama will chant, opening the front door to a ton of brightly wrapped packages.
‘Yaaay!’ Grandma will manage, feebly, hobbling after them and wincing at pulled muscles.
‘You forgot to throw the pepper nuts around,’ Mama will hiss.
‘Oh h*ll’, I'll mutter, reaching into the hall cupboard and belatedly and surreptitiously chucking handfuls of the things, into the box of toys and all over the front door step.

And when the gifts are gathered in, we’ll sit by a roaring log fire with a glass of something deep red and delicious or brown and fizzy and devour plates of ‘lekker’s: i.e., tasty nibbles on sticks and chocolates and crisps etc.. and dole out the presents and count our blessings and try and build up some energy for December the 25th…and Christmas Eve, when the 'Kerstman' or rather, Father Christmas/Santa Claus (?) will be coming to Holland from Lapland (?)with his little elf helpers and dropping down the chimney and leaving a bunch of presents under the tree.. and oh yes, this fat, jolly, ho-ho-ho-ing (Coca-cola) fellow is a completely different chap to Bishop St. Nicholas of December 5th…. (er, isn't he....?)

Confused? You me both and every kid and adult in the Neths.! But who cares? Better to just go with the flow…. it’s expensive … but after all, isn't that what the next 11 months are for? To save up...?
Ho-Ho-Ho! Merry December 5th.!!!!


Grannymar said...

I polished my shoes last night and left them by the door!

Enjoy the excitement and watching the faces!

Geri Atric said...

Thanks Grannymar! Hope you found something nice in your shoes? But if not, I'm sure there will be loads of good stuff for you under your Christmas tree on the 25th.!

A fine time was had by all over here - although getting the packaging off toys these days, requires a degree in technology, a pair of pliers and very sharp scissors - what with all that electronically fused plastic casing, twisted wire and brackets holding everything firmly in the boxes..! (Think I'll write to Sintaklaas and suggest he also include iodine and plasters for the fingertips)!

Jay said...

This tradition does sound fun! We don't have anything like it here.

"Except, I have had this nagging suspicion - ever since seeing black make up on the Chief Piet's ruff (aha!) - that they are not real Moores, but rather a large group of Dutch chappies, with their faces painted black"

No!!! Surely not! How disappointing! ROFL!

steph said...

Oops! Sorry, Geri

I managed to miss the party.

I hope Sintaklaas brought you something nice? Maybe even, silk knickerbockers (with special incontinence lining)???

I have to admit, one Ho-Ho-Ho! celebration is more than enough for me.

Geri Atric said...

Hi Jay ~ Yes it is a very festive and fun occasion, with everyone joining in. But as for those painted Pieten (Peters)...*tshh*! Luckily though, the Grandkids are still so young, we can carry on lying to them for another year or three yet!!

Hello Steph ~ Have just logged on after a couple of days away and it's good to see you up and about again!
Yes, the Sint was kind to me - but no padded knickerbockers this year! LOL.
(Just have to keep on putting my trust in good old 'Lady Tena')!

Kate said...

sounds wonderful and I couldn't help but smile at the thought of you dashing back to the downstairs loo... I should think you needed more than one glass of the red stuff - or maybe even a slice of rice pud???

Geri Atric said...

Hi Kate ~ Think I'll pass on the pud! (Would much prefer one of your delicious cakes).
Hmm, can't stop thinking of cake now - maybe I could try one of those ready-mix, just add water things..? Not the same as the real thing though, is it. No pain no gain, as they say. (Well, probably tummy pain)!

Kate said...

Could send you some if you like but I think it will arrive after Christmas now my friend!!!

steph said...

Geri, it would take a lot more than minor surgery to keep me in bed.

"A handsome Sintaklaas, perhaps?"

Now, you're talking! :-)

Geri Atric said...

Hi Kate ~ Thanks for the kind thought - but you're right, its a bit late now! Still, I wish you and yours a delicious cakey christmas! xx

Hi Steph ~ That's the spirit!

A handsome Santa with a tickly beard...? OOO..!(delicious shiver).
But perhaps a chocolate one would be (almost) as tasty(?)
Take care! xx.