Happy Sinterklaas! Don’t know what I’m talking about? December 5th is a really festive day in the Netherlands. It’s a pre-Christmas holiday filled with goodies and silly surprises, something that I only learned about this year.
First things first, the chocolate letter. Much more appealing than its cousin, the scarlet letter, the chocolate letter is the first Sinterklaas tradition I learned about from Jay. On the eve of Sinterklaas, children fill one of their shoes with hay (for Sinterklaas’ horse of course) in the hopes of finding a treat-filled shoe in the morning. One of those treats is a chocolate letter, in the shape of their first name’s first letter. For example, little Willem puts out his shoe and in the morning finds a chocolate “W” inside it. These letters come in lots of varieties. There are dark, milk, & white chocolate and some have nuts or fruits as well. Sadly, Sinterklaas doesn’t come to the US so I missed out on a delicious chocolate “C” this year. But it looks like Amazon may have some for me….
That’s not all that happens on Sinterklaas. This year I learned about a new tradition, the Sinterklaas surprises! The Dutch take Secret Santa up a notch with their surprises. Each person is secretly assigned another in the family/group, they are then sent on a mission to find a silly present for that person. Once they buy it, they should wrap it in creative packaging. Huh? What does that mean?! Let’s say the present is for someone who likes beer, you wrap their gift in the middle of a fake beer tap. Or if it’s someone who likes photography, maybe you wrap their present inside a giant fake camera!
But you aren’t done yet. These silly presents are accompanied by a silly poem written from the point of view of Sinterklaas. The poems should be about 16 lines long, with nice rhymes. I even found a website that generates poems (but it’s in Dutch so I have no idea what the poems say)!
I really love this Dutch tradition. I already love the holiday season, but this adds even more fun into the mix. Who doesn’t love big chocolate letters and silly gifts? And I love writing funny things (I mean have you read my blog?) so I really want to try a Sinterklaas poem. I may have to convince my family to have a Sinterklaas party next year….but we’ll have to write the poems in English!