This year, since the dutchkid just seems so much more “aware” of Santa and Christmas and the whole bit, I decided to introduce Sinterklaas. I’m always interested in learning about different traditions, and I remember hearing about Sinterklaas as a child.
Sinterklaas is nothing more than the Dutch version of Saint Nicholas. It is believed that this name was the source of the name “Santa Claus”, when Dutch settlers came to the Hudson Valley. The tradition varies from Santa Claus a fair amount, no North Pole and elves, but it is very similar to the way that St. Nicholas is celebrated in many parts of the world.
I looked high and low for a children’s story about Sinterklaas, to sort of introduce the idea, but I could only find one in Dutch. Which was slightly problematic, since we don’t speak it! So I decided to write a little book myself, based on a little booklet that my mom and step-dad sent to me from where else? Dutch Village.
Here’s a little excerpt for you: “On the evening before St. Nicholas Day, all children leave their shoes on the doorstep with carrots for Sinterklaas’ white horse to eat. That night, Sinterklaas and his helper, Zwarte Piet, ride across the rooftops to listen down every chimney for good children. If the children have been good, Sinterklaas sends Zwarte Piet to leave candy, gold coins and special ginger cookies called “pepernoten” in their shoes. Most importantly, Sinterklaas comes to remind everyone that it is better to give than to receive.”
She was so excited about putting out the carrots! I did find a recipe for the pepernoten, (just a side note, pepernoten are supposed to be shaped like a ball, and as you can see mine are flat. I’m blaming the altitude here, which is my standard answer for why nothing I try to bake turns out). We’ll see what she thinks of them. Undoubtedly she’ll be all over the candy in her shoe.
Happy St. Nicholas Day to you!