Posts Tagged With: Sinterklaas

Kruidnoten (Or: The state of Christmas this year)

Back in 2013 I wrote a blog post called Kruidnoten (Or: Christmas comes earlier every year). That post mentioned how kruidnoten (Wikipedia) were readily available after September 1st. This candy is traditionally seen in the month of December, both for the Sinterklaas holiday on December 5 as well as Christmas.

This year they were definitely available by August 23, when this photo was taken in a local Hema. Heh.

Kruidnoten by Hema, August 2018.jpg

I give it another 5 years, and then they will be available everywhere by August 1st.

(And in case my parents are wondering, yes, we’ll bring some the next time we visit.)

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Gevulde speculaas (Or: Another dessert by Roger)

Yesterday Marco and I visited Roger and were treated to gevulde speculaas. This translates to “filled speculaas” – the speculaas is filled with almond paste and the speculaas cookie is softer. I liked the homemade version Roger made – it was a lot less sweet than what you find in the stores. It’s mostly made around the the time St. Nicholas visits the Netherlands (5 December, Sinterklaas in Dutch).

Here is a look at the entire piece, before it was cut:

gevulde-speculaas

Almond paste inside, almonds on top…

And a look at a slice of it, where you can more clearly see the almond paste inside:

slice-of-gevulde-speculaas

Delicious!

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Opa Piet was here! (Or: Candy in my shoe)

As previously mentioned, the Sinterklaas holiday is fast approaching. Kids leave one of their shoes out, sometimes with a carrot in the shoe for Sinterklaas’ horse, and when they wake up in the morning there is candy (or sometimes a small, inexpensive gift) in the shoe.

This year in the Sinterklaas television program (which airs nightly at 6pm for 10 minutes), the character “Opa Piet” was introduced, or “grandpa Pete”. He is known for giving out wayyyy too much pepernoten (a type of candy), not just the strictly regulated 15 per shoe that most kids get. At least in this year’s storyline.

When we woke up we saw this…

Sinterklaas gifts in our shoes

In this case it is kruidnoten in my shoe – another type of Dutch candy. Of course, only Opa Piet would know that I am slightly against candy actually touching the floor. If you look carefully only a little bit of it is touching (the rest is on a blue plate) and there is even clear wrap done in my shoe so that the candy doesn’t touch. Yes, I am a bit picky…

Marco received a chocolate letter in his shoe. But traditionally kids receive the first letter of their first name – M for him. But since he received a different letter, that means it isn’t actually his – so he has to share it with me. Yay, dark chocolate!

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Sinterklaas in Gouda (Or: Old and new)

Today is the arrival of Sinterklaas in Gouda, on national TV. The story began Tuesday with a nightly 10 minute news segment (Sinterklaasjournaal – Dutch link). The story this year was the following: the Pieten wanted to hang up a painting of the announcer, Dieuwertje Blok, in the steam boat that was bringing everyone to Gouda. They hung it up using nails and then water started to appear in the boat. In an effort to get to Gouda in time, all of the Pieten except for one left the boat, leaving Sinterklaas and the one Piet to do all of the preparations. (In the end it turns out the water was not from the nails but from an open faucet in the bathroom.)

Because all of the Pieten went missing, they asked the help of Opa Piet (Grandpa Piet – an older actor, Peter Faber, who apparently was a Piet some years ago) to train some new Pieten in time for the arrival today. This segment points to the rather heated discussions about racism since Pieten are usually called Zwarte Pieten (Black Petes) and use blackface, red lips, and golden earrings. Some of the newer Pieten that were trained were simply white or had soot on their face, since the modern story of how Pieten turned black was that they went down the chimneys.

Sinterklaasjournaal 2014 Opa Piet

Opa Piet in the middle (2014 Sinterklaasjournaal)

But anyway – the new Pieten were done with their training and Opa Piet was ready to go back to Spain to enjoy his retirement. Unfortunately he accidentally locked the Pieten in the factory and then forgot his suitcase when boarding the bus. Turns out he really didn’t want to go back to Spain and enjoy his retirement… But today, the mayor of Gouda was able to track down Opa Piet (who came back for his suitcase) to get the key for the factory to free the new Pieten. At the same time, there was a bit of issue with the steam boat – there was only one Piet left on the boat and he did not know the way to Gouda. Of course Sinterklaas was asleep. Today we found out that it was all planned, and Sinterklaas had put the boat on the right trajectory before going to bed. So Sinterklaas and the one Piet arrive (finally – there is a storyline delay every year) and meet up with the newly trained Pieten.

In the middle of the program, the older Pieten arrive with a row boat, including Paniek!!! Piet (emphasis mine – i.e. Panic Piet). Whenever he panics he shouts Paniek! Paniek! and spins around two or three times in distress. Opa Piet is also in Gouda, having successfully delayed his retirement to pass out Pepernoten to the kids. While parading through the city with the new Pieten, Sinterklaas meets the old Pieten who have returned and welcomes them back, but seems to think Opa Piet should retire and head back to Spain (he doesn’t know Opa Piet is still hanging around).

Paniek Piet Sinterklaasjournaal

Paniek Piet

The national show ends with Opa Piet hiding somewhere and the old Pieten leaving again with the steam boat (and more importantly to the kids, all of the gifts), because there was not enough room in the Piet house for the old and new Pieten. You’ll have to tune in tonight for more!

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The pending arrival of Sinterklaas (Or: 2014 edition)

Sinterklaas will be arriving in the Netherlands on Saturday, November 15. This is the 67th year that he has first arrived in Scheveningen before making his way inland (2014 event). That link states that spectators along the parade route will be treated to over 8,500 kilograms of kruidnoten and assorted candy, among other edibles. Yeesh! Sinterklaas is similar to Santa Claus, although he travels by horse — apparently the name of the horse is Americano.

Sinterklaas also visits the other cities; for instance, he will be arriving in Maastricht on Saturday the 15th, while he arrives the following day in Amsterdam, Utrecht and Den Bosch. The Sinterklaas holiday extends through December 5th, when Sinterklaas brings candy and small gifts (usually placed in shoes) to the children.

One fun part of the holiday is the use of Sinterklaasjournaal, which translates to “Sinterklaas News”. This is a short news program aimed at kids which follows the journey of Sinterklaas on his way to the Netherlands and in the country. It airs every day at 6pm, starting this Tuesday the 11th. They will also be covering the national arrival of Sinterklaas (this year held in Gouda – a different city gets the honor every year) on the 15th.

2011 sinterklaasjournaal

still from the 2011 Sinterklaasjournaal (announcer with Zwarte Piet)

It can be an interesting thing to follow if you are an expat – sometimes they do have cute stories that can be amusing for adults as well. Last year they had a story that the staff of Sinterklaas was missing and one of the Zwarte Pieten (the helpers) had to find a replacement staff. You can read a review of those developments here.

Edited Monday morning to add: I was on the tram this morning and I heard a recorded announcement: Dames, heren en kinderen – Sinterklaas komt weer naar Den Haag! HTM maakt graag plaats voor de intocht! “Ladies and gentleman and children – Sinterklaas again comes to The Hague! HTM makes way for the arrival!” followed by service information. But the fun thing was that the announcement was also aimed at children – the lady’s voice was full of hope and wonderment, as if talking directly to the kids.

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September (Or: Signs the holidays are just around the corner?)

Last Friday Marco and I were in Zoetermeer, at the Albert Heijn. (I took off work at 12PM to start my vacation early…yay!) I was slightly confused to see kruidnootjes already available for purchase.

Kruidnootjes en meer display in Den Haag

These cookie like snacks are traditionally purchased around Sinterklaas time, or 5 December. It’s not even October yet! Though I must admit I was also a bit shocked to walk into a Xenos store and see Halloween items for purchase, although that was partly because Halloween hasn’t quite caught on in this country yet. Actually Marco said that everything you see above is traditionally sold around Sinterklaas time, not just the kruidnootjes.

Kruidnootjes display in Den Haag

As Marco, Roger and I are going back to the States for Christmas, I suppose Mom and Dad will have to start thinking about what they want to order from the Dutch delivery service! 😉

 

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Gifts from Sinterklaas (Or: Candy and poems)

So earlier today I went into the bedroom and noticed that Sinterklaas had arrived! He left some wrapped gifts and candy on the bed – including speculaasbrokken, kruidnoten, and jelly beans. Some of the gifts for Marco and I included a small train set, sparklers (fireworks) and chocolate letters. We have enough chocolate for the entire month, I think.

Sinterklaas gifts

Sint and Piet also left me a very lovely poem. It is written here in its entirely, so click if you want to read all of it!

Lieve Niki,

De Sint heeft een erg groot boek,
Waarin staat of je lief bent geweest.
Zo ja dan komen Sint & Piet op bezoek,
En is het op pakjes avond een groot feest.

Continue reading

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Sinterklaas (Or: Candy in my shoe)

When I went to grab my shoes earlier this afternoon to do a few errands, I found a gift from Sinterklaas in my shoe!

What is in this Sinterklaas gift

the gift, placed on top of my netbook keyboard for size comparison

It’s tradition to leave small gifts in the shoes of children. This can happen anytime between the day Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet arrive and December 5, though it does not need to happen every day. Children are given larger gifts on December 5 itself.

the contents of a Sinterklaas candy gift

Stickers, candy, and a tiny plastic book. Dank je, Sinterklaas. 😉

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Sinterklaas parade 2013 (Or: The Hague version)

Yesterday, Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet arrived from Spain. Their boat arrived in Scheveningen. To mark this occasion, The Hague had a parade throughout the city streets. It was a rather long parade as it started in Scheveningen itself at 12:30 and ended at 4:10.

Sinterklaas parade 2 Den Haag 2013

There are only three things you need to know about the Sinterklaas parades:

1. 99% of the participants are dressed up as Zwarte Piet (Sinterklaas’ helper)

2. One person is dressed up as Sinterklaas

3. Zwarte Piet passes out kruidnoten, a small, hard ginger cookie, to children.

Oh… and sometimes if you have kids, they will beg you to run from one street to the next in an attempt to get more candy. At least that is what Marco’s mom said he wanted!

Sinterklaas parade 3 Den Haag 2013

cute donkey… probably one of the few things that wasn’t freezing during this parade!

Sinterklaas parade 4 Den Haag 2013

one of the more enthusiastic floats, with a conductor in front (in red)

As you can see, most floats still had advertising. It helps pay for the parade. But then of course you also have more obvious advertising…

Sinterklaas parade McDonalds advert Den Haag 2013

There are also some Zwarte Piet who really got into the act, either riding past on roller skates (hard to do on cobblestone streets!) or in general just having fun like these Piets:

Sinterklaas parade mugging for the camera Den haag 2013

the guy in the black jacket was previously just an onlooker, but is now immortalized forever!

Here is Sinterklaas near the end of the parade (and some Spanish noblemen):

Sinterklaas parade Den Haag 2013

All in all a fun parade, though it was weird to be watching another parade so soon after returning from Disneyland Paris, where extravagant on-the-hour parades seem to be a specialty.

It is now officially the holiday season in the Netherlands! And it will be that much harder to resist gevulde speculaas

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Kleine Klaas (Or: Children’s TV)

When I turned the television on this morning I switched to Nick, Jr. For most of the summer I used to watch only children’s tv programming when I was alone, though these days I only watch one program: Timmy Tijd (Wiki: English) on that channel. What can I say – the animation is for this little preschool sheep is cute. It uses the same animation as Wallace & Gromit.  I don’t even watch it for the language as there are no words! After watching Timmy Tijd I switch over to Comedy Central for episodes of Sam Sam, Het Zoonetje in Huis, and Kees & Co – all Dutch comedy shows.

But I noticed this morning that the show after Timmy Tijd was something different – a show by the name of Kleine KlaasThe description reads:

Deze oude, wijze man die elk jaar op 5 december cadeautjes uitdeelt, was ooit natuurlijk een kleine jongen. This wise, old man who gives out gifts every year on December 5 was also of course once a small boy.

Van wie heeft hij eigenlijk die stoomboot gekregen? Waarom kan hij zo goed gedichten schrijven? En waarom stopt hij zomaar cadeautjes in je schoen? Kortom, hoe werd hij Sinterklaas? Je ontdekt het door het kijken van deze leuke filmpjes. Who did he actually receive the steamboat from? Why can he write such good poems? And why does he put gifts in your shoe? How did he become Sinterklaas? You can discover this by looking at these fun videos.

Sinterklaas arrives in the Netherlands on November 17 this year (usually he arrives on a Saturday). There will be a parade in The Hague. And of course he does not arrive alone – Zwarte Piet (black Pete) comes along as well. This year the discussions of racism seem to have intensified, with even the United Nations briefly involved before retreating and dropping the case. The controversy with the character is that the actor uses “black face” as decoration, although this is used regardless of your skin tone.

Of course, Sinterklaas (celebrated on December 5) is not the same as Santa Clause (celebrated on December 25 in America and other countries). Sinterklaas leaves gifts in your shoe and is real in a child’s mind. Santa Clause is not celebrated as such in the Netherlands – the gifts you get on December 25 (and 26!) are known to be from your parents. The idea of Santa Clause actually originated from Sinterklaas – which I found a bit odd as an American!

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