If you lived in Holland, you would be putting your shoes near the chimney this week so that Sinterklaas might leave treats for you, assuming you were good that is.
From Sinterklaas arriving in mid-November, up to St. Nicholas Day, children and adults alike put their wish lists, special drawings, and carrot or hay for Amerigo, Sinterklaas’ horse, in or near their shoes.
The evening of the 5th, Sinterklaas and his team are very busy, visiting all the houses in the Netherlands. Well-behaved children receive gifts, often stuffed in a bag. The Dutch like a holiday gift to be surprising, so maybe a small gift is wrapped in a huge box, or the gift is hidden and the recipient gets clues to help find where it is. All gifts are “from Sinterklaas” and might have a clever rhyme that gently pokes fun at the person. (If you are having trouble creating the rhyme, there are plenty of books with suggestions for the rhyme and for disguising packages.)
Treats include speculaas, marzipan, hot chocolate, and the very important chocolate letters, usually the person’s initial. St. Nicholas Day was found to be the most important tradition for the Dutch, followed by decorating a Christmas tree, followed by King’s Day on April 30th. (Blowing out birthday candles and eating raw herring were also in the top ten, the survey found.)
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