One of the joys of marrying into a different culture means more holidays. For me I get Sinkterklaasdag, also known as St. Nicholas day. I celebrated it twice while in Poland (Święty Mikołaj) and it was fairly similar.
The long and short of it is this: Nicholas was a Bishop in Myra, Turkey. He was involved in the Council of Nicaea and was also responsible for the destruction of the Temple of Artemis (which is pretty devastating, there are only a few stones left that local kids chase each other around). He was a very important figure and was known for taking care of the poor and oppressed. The holiday story involves Sinterklaas (St. Nicholas) riding up in a boat from Spain with his white horse Schimmel and his mischievous Moorish companion Zwarte Piet.
On the night of the 5th he comes around to your house, praising good children and delivering small candies, coins and treats, and openly chastising bad children. Dutch parents threaten their children throughout the year to behave or when he arrives, bad children will be taken back to Spain. I personally would totally take them up on that offer, as I love Spain this time of year and I hate the cold. As you may have noticed the American version of Santa Claus is pretty much a warped version of the tradition the Dutch Settlers brought with them when they came to the New World.
So tonight, we set out our klompen. I have made my pepernoten (anise flavored cookies), I picked up some Dutch licorice candies, marzipan, a Sinterklaas nutcracker and chocolate coins at World Market, and there are some oranges in the fridge. Usually, I buy a few boxes of Hagelslag, (candy or chocolate sprinkles), but I have 4 boxes right now that I bought in Pella, Iowa this summer, so we are set.
Now, I am off to make our Sinterklaas feast; the one time of year I made a full Dutch meal from scratch.
Here are two of our favorite Sinterklaasdag songs for sinterklaasavond.
EXTRA SONGS OF THE DAY:
(you may recognize this as the song Kris Kringle sings with the Dutch orphan in Miracle on 34th Street)
& "Hoor wie klopt daar"