Celebrating Sinterklaas

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You probably have heard about some of the Saint Nicolaus traditions in the Netherlands. Do you want to celebrate Sinterklaas yourself on December 5th? Here is a quick overview of some of the things to do that evening.

 Chocolate letters and other delicacies  

The Sinterklaas period is known for its special delicacies that you can only find in stores during this time of the year.

A definitive must have is the chocolate letter. You can buy all the letters of the alphabet in chocolate. Traditionally you give a person the chocolate letter of their first initial. They are many kinds of letters, in all different sizes, some luxurious and some just plain chocolate. 

Then we have the kruidnoten. It is impossible to miss them, as you can find them everywhere during this time of the year. They are a little like brown cookies but much harder and crispier. Besides the plain kruidnoten, you can also find them with different coatings. There are even stores where you can but more than 30 different kinds of kruidnoten. 

Another thing you should try during this time of the year is speculaas. Speculaas is a spiced shortcrust biscuit. During Sinterklaas you can find all different kinds of these biscuits. Traditionally they have a cookie-like texture but they can also be found in a more cake like form. They do have a strong flavor, so you probably won’t want to eat too much of them.

 Presents and poems

On December 5th, the Dutch celebrate pakjesavond, which means present evening. On this evening, the family comes together and they exchange presents. Beforehand they drew lots to see who would buy whom a present. But they are not just normal presents, as there is a little twist added. For example, instead of just giving a wrapped gift, the gift might have been wrapped in 30 layers of paper. Or it might sit in a box full of syrup where you must get it out first. These are little difficulties to make it more fun. 

When you give someone a present, you also give them a poem. This poem is specifically written for the person receiving the present. They can be very nice and sweet. But they also can be quite brutal and something like a roast. The person receiving the poem has to read it out loud. It takes some work to make a good poem but it is fun to see everyone reaction afterwards.

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