December is just around the corner and that means pepernoten, gevulde speculaas and schuimpjes in all stores in the Netherlands. In other words: Sinterklaas is back in town. This typical Dutch tradition goes way back and I will tell you all about it in this blog.
Sinterklaas is an old man with a white beard who cares a lot about children. Every year on his birthday (December 5th) he and his Pieten, who help him, they stop by every house to give the kids their presents. In the weeks before December 5th the children put their shoes in front of the fireplace. When doing this, they sing classical songs for Sinterklaas. Sinterklaas and the Pieten walk over the roofs and the Pieten go down the chimney to collect the wish lists and to leave the kids a little present in their shoe. On December 5th, the kids get the big presents they asked for. Parents scare their kids by telling them that Sinterklaas takes them to Spain if they don’t behave.
The tradition is meant for children up to an age of about 7 years old. When kids grow up, they don’t believe in Sinterklaas anymore. Either their parents or other kids tell them about the story. From this point, another tradition takes place. Together with a group (either the class of the family), everyone draws lots. People have to be really creative and each of them makes a surprise for the one they drew. Often, this has to do with hobbies of that person, for example people can make a paper mache football or a book out of a shoebox. Besides the surprise, everyone writes a poem about the person they drew. This can be a sweet poem about all the good qualities or achievements of someone but very often it is a roast of someone where people make fun of each other.
Altogether, Sinterklaas is a Dutch tradition, where people come together with friends or family to celebrate, give each other presents or roast each other in the poems. One tip for all our international students: try our classical pepernoten once, they are delicious!!!