Saturday, November 19, 2016

Sinterklaas: A Dutch Holiday Tradition with A Horse, Carrots & Shoes

Sinterklaas Parade - November 13, 2016 (Utrecht)
Ever heard of Sinterklaas?  Yes, I spelled that right! Here in Holland, it's not just St. Nick who visits kids for the holidays. In fact, Sinterklaas came to town last Sunday (November 13th) , made a speech about his trip from Spain (yup, Sinterklaas is Spanish!).  Dutch kids even watch a special news segment for an "update" on his journey and the obstacles he encounters on his way to their town.

(For example, maybe his horse gets stuck in the mud and there was a slight delay...but phew, the next day they are on track to arrive on time! ;)  . 

Yup, no reindeer here. He arrives from Spain on a horse.

So, last Sunday, my roommates and I headed to the city centre to check out the parade.

Oh, and Sinterklaas and his helpers, especially "Black Pete" hand out handfuls of candies to the children at the parade.

Here are a few fun facts about Sinterklaas:

K gets a peppernoten from a helper ;)
  • Sinterklaas shows up several times leading up to his birthday (December 5th), so you need to always be prepared and leave out a carrot (in your shoes) for his horse, Amerigo, to eat.    Don't horses eat apples?!
  • When you leave out a carrot, Sinterklaas and Amerigo give you a small gift (like a chocolate or small toy).
  • You have to sing a carol first, though! Otherwise Sinterklaas and Amerigo won't hear you ;)
  • Two weeks later, on Sinterklaas' birthday, you get bigger gifts!
  • Of course, you only get gifts if you're good!
  • Bad children get.... wait for it....
    • Sinterklaas chucks them in his bag and takes them to Spain.  I find this hilarious. Let's threaten them with amazing weather, good food and a beautiful coastline ;)
  • In the pic to the right, you can see a "helper" outfit. Sinterklaas' helpers (in real life) were dark-skinned, so people paint their faces black
  • This is SUPER controversial as a tradition at the moment, as some interpret it as a racist comment. So, officially, now the helpers paint their faces black because of the charcoal that gets on their faces when they slide down the chimney for Sinterklaas.
  • Kiara, my dog, gets a treat in the picture - one of the really yummy small cookies called peppernotten, which are kind of like mini gingerbread pieces.You can get them covered in dark, milk or white chocolate or even cappuccino or caramel flavour! Yum!
Here are a few pictures from the parade!

Reeling in the presents off the boat!

Open wide! Black Pete is giving you a cookie!

So, that was my experience with a Dutch holiday tradition!   What traditions do you have where you live that are a bit of a different take on the holidays? I'd love to hear your comments below. Stay tuned for my post on Friday night's GLOW festival in Eindhoven, Holland. Coming up soon!   

No comments: