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Welkom Sinterklaas!

Today is Saint Nicholas Day! A calendar event that probably doesn't even make it into your date book if you are from the United States, this holiday, or actually its eve (vooravond?), is the gift giving centerpiece of the holiday season in The Netherlands. Don't forget to put your wooden shoes by the door and wrap your fun, unique little gifts for family and friends! The importance of the holiday is wrapped around the remembrance of Saint Nicholas, a Bishop from the fourth century who gave money to poor families and toys and food to children. And don't forget Black Peter; Swarte Pete, St. Nick's sidekick, is known to kidnap the bad children and sell them into slavery. And who said anything about reindeer? In The Netherlands they have an abundance of waterways so Sinterklaas relies on the much sturdier vessel of a tugboat. Are you laughing yet? Good, because it is a festive holiday of great merriment and gaiety.

In our household we celebrate Saint Nicholas Day for several reasons, the first of which is to help return Christ to the center of Christmas by nudging "Santa" back a few weeks (or eradicating him altogether, perhaps), and two others being our Dutch heritage and our penchant for tradition and holidays.  Last night our son eagerly placing his shoes by the fireplace before going to bed, and this morning he woke up to a small bounty mashed into them, including new pajamas and two new books, and, since the order of the day is giving, there was also a coin and a small firetruck, both of which were to be given away later in the day (which went , after lunch, to the Salvation Army and Toys for Tots respectively). We finished the day with a family party, including both sets of grandparents and my aunt and uncle (fresh off the plane from an actual visit to the Netherlands and bearing much appreciated candies and decorations of the season).  Though we are a day off this year (we opted for the feast day instead of the eve, as they do in Europe, because Saturday was easier this year), we still had a great time;  we enjoyed gifts around a lit tree (complete with hilarious poems on each), tastes of Dutch cheeses and beers, and a meal of Runderlappen and Hutspot (for recipes visit the To Your Health blog).  It was a wonderful celebration with much of the aforementioned merriment and gaiety all around (which may or may not have had something to do with those Dutch beers), and was topped off with a beautiful dusting of fresh white snow.

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Reader Comments (1)

Wonderful stuff - - just wonderful. It is so great to tune in and read good things and see the great pictures here.

If I wanted bad news I could read the newspapers or listen to the news. This is very refreshing.
These entries are so wonderful, thanks. You do great work, keep it up !
December 11, 2008 | Unregistered Commentermom

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