Posts Tagged With: Sinterklaas

A new addition in Grote Markt (Or: Toilets)

Kudos to The Hague for putting temporary public toilets on the Grote Markt. The most shocking of all: I didn’t see any signs that you had to pay, which would be quite normal in the Netherlands. Generally the only free bathrooms are found in restaurants or cafés.

Normally these barriers would be used for the Royal Christmas Fair. However, the fair was cancelled so the barriers could be put to a different use. And public toilets are very important right now. At the moment restaurants and cafés are only allowed to be open for takeout or delivery, so there not many public toilets available to shoppers at the moment.

I also saw some toilets by the plaza outside the Tweede Kamer parliamentary building, so it is not just on the Grote Markt. (Oh, and for American readers: yes, that’s TJ Maxx in the background. However in Europe the company goes by the name TK Maxx.)

Above is a tweet from the Scheveningen police, wishing everyone a nice Sinterklaas evening. Everyone opens their presents from Sinterklaas on the evening of December 5, aka last night.

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National Cookie Day (Or: Gimmie gimmie gimmie!)

(Okay, National Cookie Day was yesterday, but shouldn’t every day be National Cookie Day?)

I am salivating a bit after seeing this tweet from Disney Parks:

My favorite is the Molasses crackle cookies mentioned in the linked article (direct link to the recipe PDF at Disney.com).

In other news: Oude foto’s: Sinterklaas in Den Haag door de jaren heen, also from indebuurt.nl. Old photos of The Hague’s Sinterklaas throughout the years. One reason to click on the link is to see the pictures of gas masks being advertised as Sinterklaas presets in 1940.

Also of note: the benches at the Grote Markt between Hema and Blokker/Xenos are a bit more ‘corona proof’ these days: Coronaproof: Je kunt weer veilig op de bankjes aan de Grote Marktstraat zitten from indebuurt.nl. (Corona proof: You can now safely sit on the bench at the Grote Markt.) Not that many things in life are truly corona proof…

And if you are not currently in the Netherlands and wonder why I haven’t mentioned the number of corona cases lately… it is because the number fluctuates too wildly to be of much use:

The pink lines are the number of positive tests and the red line is the 7 day average.

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Bijenkorf holiday windows (Or: 2020 edition)

Here are some of the holiday windows Bijenkorf (a high-end retail store) here in The Hague. Bijenkorf is Dutch for beehive.

This one is Sinterklaas themed (you can see the music in backend and his staff in front of the music sheet). The white letters that are almost impossible to see say Muziek dat verbindt – the music that brings us together.
The mannequin was also slowly rotating. The white letters say Feest van samenzijn – Feast of being together (or a similar translation).
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Start of another week (Or: Bring the weekend back, please!)

It’s Monday again. It was quite a crazy work day for both Marco and I. On the plus side, the workday flew past for both of us – blink and it was 17:00 (or really 17:25… opps).

Here is some random news for you:

Fotoserie: Stille aankomst van Sinterklaas in Den Haag from indebuurt.nl. Photo series: The silent arrival of Sinterklaas in The Hague. The man next to him is the current mayor of The Hague. There are four pages; click the orange arrow before or after the photos to go to the next page. The photos on page 2 (where he is in De Passage, a covered shopping area) are my favorite.

Georgian man infected with coronavirus arrested at Schiphol from nltimes.nl. Note for my American readers: That’s Georgia the country (not far from Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan), not Georgia the US state. I will admit it took me a bit of time to get used to that when I first moved here. As the article states: a man from Georgia was discovered at Schiphol Airport with a letter in his pocket informing him he tested positive for coronavirus. Needless to say, he was immediately arrested by the Marechaussee (the Dutch military police, who oversee the airport) for bringing others into danger.

Belgian racing pigeon fetches record price of $1.9 million from nbcnews.nl. The pigeon was purchased by a Chinese buyer. She was probably bought for breeding purposes – apparently she has very good lineage – and won’t be used for racing again. Another article (from nos.nl, in Dutch) stated this was because she would try to fly home to Belgium from China. Now that’s a trip…

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Temporary fixes (Or: Amendment to coronavirus regulations sign)

At the moment the Netherlands is under an additional layer of coronavirus restrictions, with additional community areas closed like libraries, theaters, cinemas, zoos, theme parks, etc. These additional restrictions will automatically expire on Wednesday (article in English from nltimes.nl) because there has been some improvement in hospitalizations.

Another restriction that is about to expire group sizes outside are currently limited to three (instead of the usual four). The Hague found an interesting way of getting this temporary amendment across:

That’s right. A nice big X of black tape where it says you can only be outside in a group of four. It works, I guess…

In other, Sinterklaas news: as you may or may not know, the subject of Zwarte Piet (Black Pete; link to English Wikipedia) is quite controversial because traditionally the character was portrayed by a white person, in blackface, with black curly hair, red lips and huge golden earrings. You can see the issue there…

But in recent years the trend (at least nationally) has been to have Black Petes with chimney soot on their faces, no curly hair, etc. The national children’s news program Sinterklaasjournaal already adapted this a few years back. The changes have sadly been much slower on a local level (if you remember from an earlier blog post this week, there’s a national Sinterklaas but also a local Sinterklaas for each city).

Dutch libraries are taking another step towards the future by banning all children’s books which depict a black-faced Black Pete, either removing them from their shelves or not buying them in the first place. Read more at the guardian.com: Will Dutch library ban on ‘Black Pete’ books spell end for ‘racist’ festive tradition?

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Ca-SHEW! (Or: The sound of a nut sneezing?)

Marco and I spotted this amusing joke at FOAM‘s breakfast / lunch restaurant:

Cute, huh?

Unfortunately the number of coronavirus infections are increasing again; we’re back at around 6,100 after hitting a low of around 4,700 earlier this week (article at nltimes.nl).

In other news: Billion euros raised to extend Amsterdam subway to Schiphol Airport, also from nltimes.nl. I’ve always in favor of more public transportation options from the airport to your destination. Of course it will be years before that project is completed.

And a few days ago I reported on Sinterklaas’ plan to arrive at a non-existent village to prevent crowds of parents and kids from going there in these corona times. That’s the national Sinterklaas, but a lot of cities have their own local Sinterklaases as well. Check out this blog post that I wrote about the 2013 parade in The Hague.

Well, this year the story is that the boat of Sinterklaas had some favorable winds during its journey from Spain to The Hague’s harbor, so he unexpectedly arrived early. The mayor advised him to go into a short quarantine at an undisclosed location, which he did. Sinterklaas will receive a corona test on Saturday so that he can participate in Sunday’s parade (which children can watch on TV at home). Read more (in Dutch) at omroepwest.nl.

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Sinterklaas to dock at Zwalk this year (Or: Wait. Where is that again?)

Here’s another thing that has changed this year due to the corona crisis: Sinterklaas will arrive in Zwalk this year. But good luck finding it, because Zwalk doesn’t exist on any maps.

That’s right – the organization behind Sinterklaas (a Dutch holiday celebrated on December 5) has cleverly chosen to have him arrive in a fictional town. That way you avoid any crowds and super spreader events. Usually 20,000-30,000 children and parents watch him arrive in a different city each year. Of course, everything was probably taped a month or two ago, but this way you prevent any and all traffic to the town.

This news was announced during the first episode of the Sinterklaasjournaal (literally “Sinterklaas news”) last night. That is a 10 minute program that will air daily until December 5. (Side note: there are so many toy commercials before and after this show – it is insane!).

The mayor of the fictional town asked children to send their drawings to Sinterklaasjournaal so that they could take part in the fun without being there physically.

The lady on the right is Dieuwertje Blok, the presentator of the show. The show is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year – and she has been the presentator since the beginning.

Here is an article in English from dutchnews.nl: Sinterklaas to dock at fictional location on Saturday, but tv cameras will be there

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That’s pretty clever (Or: A wall of chocolate letters at Hema)

Marco took this photo for me of the Hema in The Hague’s city centre. It shows a wall of chocolate Sinterklaas letters being used to block off what was formerly the entrance to Hema’s restaurant:

Hema’s restaurant is closed right now due to the corona regulations in the Netherlands. All restaurants and cafés are closed with the exception of takeaway. But takeaway doesn’t make much sense at the Hema restaurant so it is completely closed.

And what better way is there to to block off an entrance? It’s quite clever – it immediately makes the space more festive and takes attention away from the reasons why it needed to be closed in the first place. Here’s a look at the store when the restaurant redesign first opened back in early 2015:

You can see the store in the background

If you need a refresher on Sinterklaas letters, they are literally large letters of chocolate, from A all the way to Z. They usually come in the flavors milk, dark, white and hazelnut. They are either plain or covered in fancy designs. If they are a gift for someone, then you normally buy the letter that corresponds with the first letter of the receipt’s name (N for Niki, and so forth). Or a lot of people buy “S” for Sinterklaas. But be warned: if you wait until the day before Sinterklaas to buy one, there will probably only be Q’s left!

Sinterklaas is celebrated on 5 December. It is a children’s holiday (mostly…), celebrated with gifts, poems and good food. You can read more at dutchnews.nl with the “Ten things you need to know to celebrate Sinterklaas” list.

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Store displays (Or: The many holidays of Xenos)

Over the weekend I went to Xenos, a local store, to purchase additional face masks. That particular mission was successful, luckily. I also spent a few minutes staring at all of the holiday displays in the store. Halloween, Sinterklaas (December 5) and Christmas all in one day. I’m sure if they celebrated Thanksgiving in this country you would have seen turkeys as well.

Halloween costumes and other attire
I wonder if any kid has tried to pull down some of those Halloween buckets yet…
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Time to return those library books (Or: No more garbage bins)

It seems as more time goes by that the coronavirus restrictions are being relaxed. The same is true of the Centraal library here in The Hague – you no longer need a pass to enter the library, although you do need a pass if you want to stay and study.

The last time I visited the huge garbage bins were gone, thankfully. You had to throw (or gently place) your returned library books into them. Once full they would remain unopened for four days in case any of the books were infected. Still, there’s something weird about throwing library books into a huge garbage bin so I am glad to see them gone.

In its place, the checkin point is back in service!

terugbrengen = to bring back

In other news:

  • Head of security council protests for right to chant at football matches from dutchnews.nl. I can see his point – there are some fanatical fans here in The Netherlands. The government’s theory is that less screaming and chanting would also mean less potential coronavirus particles in the air. But who knows, maybe I will be surprised. I suspect it will be harder for people to follow this rule as the months go by.
  • Long-distance relationship exempted from Netherlands travel ban from nltimes.nl. Are you in a long-distance relationship with a Dutch citizen or someone here who holds a non-temporary residency permit? Then you can visit for up to 90 days (provided you meet a few other criteria as well), even if you’re from a country that is not currently on the “safe” list, like the United States.
  • Are you in the Netherlands and you’re itching to taste some kruidnoten? Well, they are coming. The first photo of kruidnoten has been posted on Reddit on the /thenetherlands page. (This treat is generally consumed around the Sinterklaas holiday, which falls on 5 December each year. The earliest I’ve seen it so far is the first of August.)
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