In Sinter Klaas part I you learned about some strange traditions. Nick and I were lucky enough to have front row seats outside our apartment window to the arrival of Sinter Klaas and all of his Zwarte Piets.
In part II, the story gets even closer to home.
Since our apartment is a few doors down from the St. Nicolaaskerk (St. Nicholas Church) our place was nominated to host a rotating wine party among some expat and Dutch friends. At the previous wine party (for American Thanksgiving) we had met one of our Dutch friend’s younger brother and sister. They had never experienced Thanksgiving before and therefore were able to learn the meaning of indulging, North American style. When we finalized the plans for our Christmas / Sinter Klaas holiday party, we were upset to hear that the Dutch siblings would not be able to make it.
Fast forward to our place for the next holiday gathering. Early on, we were watching youtube clips of Sinter Klaas songs that all Dutch children know. Our friends were adamant that we learn the songs and get in the spirit of Sinter Klaas. We thought it would be a Christmassy, holiday-themed kind of night, but it was quite clear to the Dutchies that they were there to celebrate Sinter Klaas. And so we did.
There was some commotion inside and one or our guests snuck out the door to go downstairs. He returned, and only a few moments later we heard a loud knocking on the door. I thought to myself: dear god, is there some sort of roaming Sinter Klaas that you can invite to come to your house?
Indeed there was. It turns out the Dutch siblings lied all along so that they could show up to our house dressed as Sinter Klaas and his helper Zwarte Piet.
We were killing ourselves laughing. The Dutch siblings played their part so well that at first I was only 95% confident that it was them. They stole the show.
We had all arranged to do a sort of secret santa where we drew a name, then gave a gift, a poem, and if possible, some sort of surprise. I had thought we would just go from youngest to oldest and have each person open their present; however, Sinter Klaas and his helper carried the night from the moment he pounded on our door. He brought a special book (visible in the picture above) that had all of our names in it; he knew many things about what we had been up to in the past year (much like Santa Claus). He called each of us up one at a time to sit on his knee and give us a present, also much like Santa Claus. The main difference, however, was that in true Dutch style, Sinter Klaas was a bit more rough around the edges and more direct than our jolly old Saint Nick.
In order to get our presents, we each needed to perform a task. For example, because Sinter Klaas had heard that I go to the gym in the morning I needed to do a set of pushups.
Anyway, it’s Christmas Eve here and time for Nick and I to watch Love Actually. I just thought it was an appropriate time to share our Dutch holiday story with you all. Here’s Nick on Sinter Klaas’ lap.
Merry Christmas to all!