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.Continue reading
Posts Tagged With: Sinterklaas
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.)
Public service announcement: please note the very awesome and tasty oliebollenkraam on the Spuiplein (which has its own Facebook page!) looks to have relocated to the Grote Markt this year:
This is because of all the construction at the Spuiplein (article in Dutch, with photo), which seems to take over more and more space every week.
The Facebook page for the oliebollen stand says it should open on November 2nd. This is a very popular place to buy oliebollen. Oliebollen (literally “oil balls”) are sort of like donut balls, without any holes. They are typically served with raisins inside, unless you are a heretic like me that eats them plain. Here’s a look at how long the line gets on New Year’s Eve, back in 2014. This stand is popular! Or check out this 1 minute video.
And for the public transportation aficionados reading this (haha), the bus driving past is the old model – it is bus 61, which is a temporary line to take over tram 1 at least through the end of the year. They are busy doing work on the Scheveningseweg.
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.
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.)
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:
And a look at a slice of it, where you can more clearly see the almond paste inside:
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…
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!
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.
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).
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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! 😉
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.
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!
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.