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Reisverslag Sinterklaas, that weird Dutch holiday
23 november 2016
Sinterklaas, that weird Dutch holiday
Finally, there was a TGIF (Thank God It's Friday) Erasmusparty! No work the next day! Woohoo! However, I still had to set an alarm, because my uncle and his wife were here and we were gonna meet up and go to dinner. They really liked all the things Manchester has to offer and were surprised that everything is already so Christmassy here. It's true, there are Christmas lights and decorations everywhere (and I love it! Makes it more bearable that it is now dark at 3 pm). There's the Christmas market, which is really crowded all the time but it looks so nice with all the lights. They even have some Dutch food like 'poffertjes' (which they call Dutch mini pancakes - translation mystery solved) and 'stroopwafels' (caramel cookie waffles). In the Netherlands on the other hand, everything is still revolving around 'Sinterklaas'.. My colleague Liz made me realize how weird of a holiday this actually is when she asked me: I heard you have a holiday where you have to sing a song to get a present? Well yeah kinda.. and it gets even weirder - Sinterklaas, his horse and Black Pete walk on the rooftops, slide down through the chimney and put the presents in your shoe. Yeah, try to explain that to people outside of the Netherlands.
I guess this next bit sums it up:
"Sinterklaas arrives on a “stoomboot” (steamboat). From Spain, because that’s where he lives. And we believe that this boat is full of presents. Now is he alone on the boat? No. Sinterklaas has a team of helpers. So called, “zwarte pieten” (black petes). Now, it might seem a bit strange that we have a celebration where a white man is the boss and the workers are black. At the moment there is indeed a lot of discussion about it.The 5th of December is called “pakjesavond”, a “pakje” is another word for a present wrapped in paper. Usually this is how it happens; the whole family is sitting in the living room. And then suddenly there is someone knocking extremely loud on the door, or even throwing “pepernoten” in the room. And as a child – that’s when you feel your heart beat. After a few seconds you stand up, walk to the front door, and there is a big bag with presents! And you understand, for parents this is a yearly request to the neighbor for help.
But how do you celebrate when you get older? Well, then comes the next tradition. It is the moment in the year when you can show your poetic and creative talent. This is how it works, people who decided to celebrate the evening together draw names. And the name you draw is the one you need to give a present. But you should use all your talents and include a poem, a “sinterklaasgedicht” I think it can be compared to what is called Secret Santa in the UK."
Christmas is so huge here so people are surprised when I tell them I might not go home for it, but honestly, I barely celebrate it at home. Me and my family have dinner together - but that's it. However, it would feel weird spending it alone, so I'll just see if other people I know are staying here and if not, I will probably go home. Or maybe there are some crazy Christmas parties to go to ;) Liz gave me a typical British treat to try - a mince pie. It is a fruit-based sweet pie with spices. It was alright, but not really my thing.
Also, I will be moving in December (99% sure). My colleague Hani is moving out of his flat, so I will move there. It will be nice to live closer to the city centre and it will save me quite a lot of money on Uber rides as well. This Friday, my friend Anne is coming for the weekend! I can't wait! Guuuurl we have a lot of catching up to do.
On 16 December, it is Save the Children's Christmas Jumper Day, which is exactly what its name suggests - we have to wear a Christmas Jumper to collect money for charity. On 23 December we will do Secret Santa. That should be fun. It's also starting to get really cold! Can you believe last week we had snow already? It's only November! For some of the students it was the first time ever that they had seen snow. Meanwhile, my classmates in Spain are still wearing their summer dresses.. Okay, I'm a little jealous.
P.S. I will add some pictures later tonight!
Foto's bij verslag (12)
23 november 2016 14:49 | Door: Marjo
Dit jaar waren er bij aankomst op TV alleen roetveegpieten! Helaas niet bij alle aankomsten, maar m.i. gaan we de goede kant op!
Leuk t Sinterklaasfeest beschreven trouwens! X
30 november 2016 17:00 | Door: Henny
Weer leuk om te lezen. Sterkte en succes met de verhuizing!