Sintaklaas

Spiced biscuits and treats for us tomorrow, I’m half Dutch and like to celebrate Sintaklaas in a small way on 5th December.

Sintaklaas is the festival of St Nicholas, celebrated annually on Saint Nicholas’ eve (5 December), it’s the gift giving day in the festive period, gifts are small but very personalised, I think it’s more about the fun of the occasion, and family time, some of the gifts given to adults might be a ‘surprise’ so it could be a handmade gift or a bit of a joke, my Mam told us that she once made a computer from cardboard boxes as a gift for her brother.

I’m not sure of the roots of this one but on Sintaklaas evening Dutch children put their shoe in front of the fireplace to find it may be filled with sweets the next day, so I do this for my husband as he loves the novelty of it, and am doing this for Joss this year too!

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A few years ago I was lucky to be in Holland staying with my family over Sintaklaas, in Holland the presents aren’t under a tree but they ‘arrive’ in all manner of means, and this particular year my Aunt’s neighbour delivered them dressed as Zwartepiet, or Black Peter, Sintaklaas’ helper. It would be remiss of me not to say that there are some issues around stereotyping, that Peter in his Moorish representation, where people paint their faces black, perpetuates a racist stereotype, that Peter was a servant or slave of Sintaklaas, I can understand this and found myself a little shocked to see the tradition continue.

The gifts were presented and there was a lot of fun, my grandfather received a white chocolate carrot as he loved rabbits, I had just moved into my first house and received pretty accessories that I treasure today, there were joke gifts and lots of spiced biscuits and special food, my favourite was presented by my parents on their return from visiting family this year, an Amandelstaf, a pastry staff representing the bishop’s staff carried by Sintaklaas filled with sweet almond paste, divine!

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