Sinterklaas, Birthday, Christmas, Birthday, Christmas, New Years…. I’m waiting for a vacation!

28 12 2008

First this man shows up on a horse, he comes from Spain and has his “helper” … let me introduce, Sinterklaas and his “helper” Zwarte Piet.  Now Zwarte Piet is a topic that gets argued by expats every year, and every year it’s the same argument.  I’m not here to argue the ethics of Black Pete, I’m here to just show you a little of the Dutch Christmas culture.   So back to the Sinterklaas thing…sinterklaas

He showed up here in November by boat with his buddy from his vacation spot in Spain and then rode around on a white horse.  I’m a little lost what he does from November to December 5thwhen he goes house to house to give candy and toys in the kids shoes, but he and his little buddies (there’s usually a gaggle of them) give candy to the good ones and branches to spank the naughty children, you know… with these kids this day and age maybe they should bring that tradition back!  But anyhow the dude goes around on December 5th to do all of this and once he’s done he’s gone for another year.   The kids in the area get as excited for him and his helpers and the kids in North America do for the big fat dude and his little helpers.   So that is what happened in the house on December 5th.  We had a small present exchange with the kids and us, nothing big or fancy and mainly it was for the kids.  Usually they include a little poem about why they are giving you this present and they wrap it so that it is nearly impossible to get out.  All three kids had to bring something to school to do gift exchange (nothing expensive a 3 euro limit) and they all received something in return.  I think Brianna did the best job, she had a little girl that like to sing and dance so she wrapped it up like a microphone, decorated it with the wire and everything.  She did a great job and it was too bad that it was going to be ripped open!  There are little cookies too that are eaten this time of year also,  kruidnoten/pepernoten which is very close to the taste of a ginger snap.  I’m not sure how many where eaten in this house but I can guess maybe a few thousand ;).  I’m not a huge fan of them since I don’t care for ginger snaps to begin with, but to have one or two is a nice treat.  Actually to crumble one on top of ice cream is really good.

After the Sinterklaas thing we had Frank’s 41st birthday to celebrate.   We just had  the kids here to celebrate and one of his friends stopped by later that night to watch a movie, nothing big since it was only his 41st ;).  Last year was the big party, he has to wait until he turns 50 for the next one.

Now here is where things got a little hectic,  Christmas and Brianna’s birthday are the same day so what we did was open presents on the 24th, have her party on the 25th, then Christmas dinner on the 26th.   Why not have Christmas dinner on the 24th you ask?  WELL Frank had to work on the 24th and unlike some Canadian companies, they kept him there until 6pm.  Mainly because this is the Netherlands and not Canada or the US.  I didn’t want him to come home from work and rush to have a dinner, granted I did make an nice pork roll for Christmas eve.  Afterwards we unwrapped gifts, and since my mom also sent us a box we went on webcam with her and my brother so they could watch us open them.   Not quite what I’m use too… it will take some adjusting. 

stonegrillThen on the 25th, we had Brianna’s 11th birthday with cake and presents and family.   We bought her inline skates since she was always borrowing Ashley’s last summer.  Also since we don’t get the snow here like back in Canada she can pretty much use them year round.   On their birthday the kids get to choose what they want for dinner, Ashley wanted Mexican on her birthday back in November so I did nachos and burritos.  Brianna wanted steingrill or in English… stonegrill.  That’s where you get little cuts of meat and you cook it yourself on a hot stone in the middle of the table.  Plus they have these little trays so you can put veggies and such underneath the element and roast things there.  food It saves you from cooking the main meal but you still need to either buy the meat (pre-sliced and small fortune) or do it yourself.  I was lazy and bought the stuff presliced and marinated.  We also had homemade (yes mine – no comments from the peanut gallery) potato salad, mushrooms to cook, onions and broccoli.  Plus bread and coleslaw.  So in the end it is quite filling.

Afterwards we just chilled until the next day when the kids went to their grandparents for a visit and then I started to make Christmas dinner for us.  No we didn’t have turkey, since again I didn’t ask for it in advance and I  wasn’t selling a kidney to get one.  So instead we had chicken parmigiana, rice, sprouts,  and green beans.  Needless to say we had a lot of left overs after the holidays. 

Now it’s time to prepare for New Years here,  I should have taken Stoney to the vet for some puppy valium since he is terrified of the fireworks,  but I didn’t.  I’m going to just have to deal with a dog hiding under the bed for the night when they start going off.    According to Tammy, it can get a bit crazy in this country with the pyrotechnic display.   I’m hoping that Stoney will get use to it after a while but I highly doubt it since even now any loud noise sends him scurrying under the bed.  Unfortunately the fireworks aren’t done by professionals, so there really isn’t any rhyme or reason for when they go off.  But I’m sure it will be interesting to see, as long as the neighbour kids don’t blow a finger off. 

Well I know this is a bit late but I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas!

Wishing you all the best from the Netherlands and have  Happy New Year!!

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3 responses

28 12 2008
Isabella

This is great! I love what all you’ve written about. It covers it all in one big swoop! The grill idea, we do that each year now & I call it DIY [do-it-yourself] Christmas dinner. All I have to do is buy the stuff, cut it/prep it and have wine and coffee/dessert ready to go. And it is true about the New Year’s in the Netherlands with the pyrotechnics. My neighbors are already letting off fireworks night & day.. It’s not nice, really. But I can say at least they are being ‘festive.’

Happy New Year!

29 12 2008
Zia

Wow…sounds like you’ve been doing a lot of great celebrating. Glad you’re back…missed the blog.

Say hi to everyone. Poor Stoney…I can only imagine. Taffy would be shivering in her boots.

Love,
Zia and Uncle Adam and cousins Adam and James

29 12 2008
Sonya

I spotted a turkey at AH this year and it was about 18 euros for it..not bad conisdering I paid 40 euros at Thanksgiving from a butcher and it was a really old tough turkey..lol
That grill thing is really a neat idea!

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