Posts Tagged With: Sinterklaas

Old finds at Xenos (Or: Sinterklaas chocolate letters in January)

Back on the day that stores were allowed to reopen (January 15) I saw a curious find at Xenos. Xenos is a national chain here in The Netherlands. The Dutch Wikipedia page summarizes it well when they say Xenos specializes in selling “mass produced exotic goods”.

Well, apparently they also had a leftover stock of chocolate letters (English Wikipedia) from the Sinterklaas holiday, celebrated on 5 December. I know the stores had to close in mid-December due to the lockdown, but still! Albert Heijn and Hema always clear out their stock even before 5 December.

Of course, at this point they only had the most common letters (M) or some rarer ones (O, P). They still had all of the usual flavors, though. Milk chocolate, white chocolate, dark chocolate, hazelnut…

In other news, for the history buffs among us:

Digitalised Holland Amerika line passenger lists reveal famous names from dutchnews.nl. “The digital archive, which is kept at the Rotterdam city archive and accessible to the public, covers the period between 1900 and 1969 when millions of people made the journey [from Rotterdam to the United States] and took three years to complete.” Apparently Albert Einstein was also one of the regular passengers, as he frequently taught a course at nearby Leiden University. The direct link to the list is available here (stadsarchief.rotterdam.nl, in Dutch).

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Almost time to start the countdown (Or: Sinterklaas)

Sinterklaas arrives in The Netherlands this Saturday from Spain, as is tradition (read more at English Wikipedia). After his arrival Dutch children start counting down to December 5, as that evening they can open their presents. Minor gifts are given (usually left in shoes) between the arrival of Sinterklaas and December 5.

Albert Heijn is getting into the party with their own version of an advent calendar with mini chocolates:

Every day from November 13 through December 5 has a little window to open (in random order, which as an adult I find a bit annoying). Aftellen tot pakjesavond = countdown to gifts evening (a literal translation).

We’ll see if things proceed as planned. The nationally televised arrival of Sinterklaas can go ahead because almost all of it is taped in advance and the city he arrives in doesn’t actually exist, due to the pandemic. Normally he arrives to much fanfare and thousands of young kids cheering him on in person or watching from home.

Regional arrivals have started to be cancelled, with Utrecht being the first big city to cancel theirs (official website in Dutch). A decision for The Hague hasn’t been made yet, but the signs informing travelers of bus and tram re-routing on Saturday are still in place, and inside the trams an automated message plays saying there will be re-routing on Saturday. It will probably go ahead as the arrival of Sinterklaas at the harbor in Scheveningen now requires tickets and they are restricting the number of tickets offered. At the moment the parade through The Hague is also still on. We’ll see.

For fun, here’s a look at the first (and only) Sinterklaas parade I went to back in 2013. Psssst: Americans, please don’t be shocked at the use of blackface. It is slowly being phased out in most cities.

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Anyone up for some Sinterklaas sweets? (Or: Albert Heijn offerings)

One of the local Albert Heijns has an entire wall display for Sinterklaas sweets:

Think of things like speculaas with almond filling (cakieshq.com), spiced kruidnoten cookies (thespruceeats.com) and the softer pepernoten cookies (allrecipes.com).

Autumn arrived at the end of September, bringing a lot of rain and cold with it. If you are not paying attention, you will get caught in a sudden downpour that soaks you and then dissipates within 10 minutes. Marco and I also still need to try the yearly traditional of oliebollen, as I mentioned in a previous blog post. Soon!

At least the weather looks a bit drier this week, even if the warmth of summer is gone.

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August (Or: Did you know it is already time for Sinterklaas?)

Marco and I visited Action today. Action (English Wikipedia) is a cheap store, kind of like Dollar General in the US without saying everything is a dollar.

Imagine my surprise (okay, not really) when we saw that Action was selling kruidnoten (English Wikipedia) already. Although I know Roger already saw some at the beginning of this month. Kruidnoten is a hard cookie-like confectionery sold in the time leading up to the Sinterklaas holiday on 5 December. These days it starts appearing in August, and 2021 was no exception.

They also had other Sinterklaas items for sale:

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Categories: Everyday purchases, Holidays, Shopping | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

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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