It’s hard for me to believe that Christmas is in THREE WEEKS!! I’ve been to a Christmas market. I’ve turned on the holiday tunes. I’ve even bought a few presents. Yet, I’m not feeling all Christmas-y yet. Much of this non-Christmas feeling has to do with the fact that in Holland, the Christmas season doesn’t start in earnest until December 6, the day after Sinterklaasavond, the country’s most celebrated holiday.
A little background: Sinterklaas, the patron saint of children also known as Sint Nikolaas or Saint Nicolas, arrives in the Netherlands in mid-November on a steamboat from Spain, thus begins the hoopla leading up to Sinterklaasavond (Sinterklaas evening) on December 5.
From the time of Sinterklaas’ arrival until December 5, children leave their shoes next to the fireplace at night with a carrot or a bowl of water nearby for Sinterklaas’ horse. The next day they will find that the carrot is gone and has been replaced by a small gift in their shoes, an idea not unlike the stocking tradition in America.
On Sinterklaasavond (December 5) children wait for Sinterklaas to knock on the door and leave a sack full of gifts for them on the doorstep. There’s also lots of candy and treats involved in the festivities, including pepernoten, chocolate coins, chocolate Sinterklaases and chocolate letters with the first letter of the child’s name.
While my family and I celebrate many Dutch traditions, such as Queen’s Day, for example, I draw the line at Sinterklaas. For the uninitiated, you can find my reasons here. So until Sinterklaasavond is over, I basically listen to Christmas music and twiddle my thumbs. Then sometime in the wee hours between December 5 and 6, Christmas tree stalls begin to appear, as suddenly as gifts appear under those trees in the wee hours between December 24 and 25. All those blackfaces are wiped clean, and post-Sinterklaas sales frenzy begins that rival anything offered on Black Friday.
So I guess instead of twiddling my thumbs tomorrow, while the rest of Holland celebrates their favorite holiday, I’ll turn up my Christmas music even loader, bring the boxes of Christmas decorations down from the attic and start decking my halls, saving space in the middle of my living room for the Christmas tree that I’ll finally be bringing – along with the Christmas spirit – into my house on December 6.
Have you gotten into the holiday spirit? How?
This was my 5minute Stream of Consciousness Sunday post hosted by all.things.fedra. It’s five minutes of your time and a brain dump. Want to try it? Here are the rules…• Set a timer and write for 5 minutes only.• Write an intro to the post if you want but don’t edit the post. No proofreading or spellchecking. This is writing in the raw.• Publish it.