Happy Second Christmas

Kerstmarkt
It’s still technically Christmas — the Dutch celebrate Tweede Kerstdag (Second Christmas Day) today — so I thought I’d share a few photos taken from last weekend’s kerstmarkt (Christmas market) that was held this year behind the stadhuis (city hall, the big building in the background, also the location of the signing of the Treaty of Utrecht if you remember my postings from earlier this year).

We went to the market twice: once during the day and again in the evening to take in the lights. Of course, we were also enticed back by the witte gluhwein (a spiced, warm, white wine) and more poffertjes. This time, the poffertjes were made in the back of a converted car that was absolutely brilliant! The poffertjes were excellent, too.
Kerstmarkt
Kerstmarkt
Kerstmarkt
There were lots of places to get food, stalls set up with gifts, a little shed with books free for the taking, and a charming swing merry-go-round, along with a bouncy castle for the kids that was shaped like a snow globe.

The market was nice during the day, but really came alive during the evening, even at the end of the weekend and a weekend with less than stellar weather. It definitely helped get us a bit more in the Christmas spirit.

I hope you’ve all had a good first and second Christmas and wish you all happy holidays.
Kerstmarkt
Kerstmarkt
Kerstmarkt
Kerstmarkt
Kerstmarkt
Kerstmarkt

Sinterklaas Is Coming to Town

Greetings
Hij komt!
Hij komt!

There will be lots of children shouting that on Sunday when Sinterklaas makes his arrival. Sunday is the intocht, AKA Sinterklaas’ arrival by boat from Spain.
Sinterklaas Intocht
Despite the recent issues with the canal walls near the Weerdsluis, it seems everything has been stabilized and Sinterklaas will be able to disembark in his normal spot. If the rain holds off, I may go see some of the festivities. The kid in me gets a kick out of it. Plus, it seems like a good time to get the first oliebollen of the season.

If you want to see the festivities in person, here’s this year’s schedule:
12.00 The boat parade begins at LedigErf
12.30 Weerdsluis festivities begin
13.00 Boats arrive at Weerdsluis
14.00 Begin the procession to Janskerkhof
14.30 Festivities at Janskerkhof

Christmas Blog Hop

Twijnstraat Kerstmarkt
Thanks to Twitter, I stumbled across a blog hop hosted by Blog In France, a fellow expat blog. What better date than 12-12-12 to have a Christmas/expat-themed blog hop! Best of all, it’s a great way to read about other traditions in other countries and how they get incorporated into an expat’s new life. I figured I’d share a bit about one of the Christmas traditions here in Utrecht (the Netherlands) that helps get me into the holiday spirit.

The kerstmarkt (Christmas market) may be more well known in Germany, but they pop up in cities and countries in this general part of the world. Utrecht’s is hardly the largest or oldest, but it takes place on Twijnstraat, a lovely historic street in the old city center, which also happens to be the oldest shopping street in Utrecht. Hidden behind the rows of shops on the right is the Oudegracht, one of the multi-level canals unique to Utrecht. Part of our tradition is to get a cup of gluhwein (mulled wine) from the market and wander down to the wharf level to enjoy the scenery.
Twijnstraat a/d Werf

Get Your Glühwein!

Twijnstraat and some of the side streets are filled with stalls selling food, drink, decorations, yarn, antiques, and more. Many of the kramen (stalls) feature organic products from the area. In fact, a monthly organic market combines with the kerstmarkt during the Christmas season.

Last year, the market extended down one of the side streets to Nicolaaskerkhof, the square next to Nicolaikerk (Nicholas Church). There were more stalls on hand, as well as a crepe stall and some special treats for the children, including a charming merry-go-round powered by bicycle (of course) and special sleigh rides with Santa and a couple of his reindeer!
Santa's Reindeer

Saint Nick

Not surprisingly, there was also a nativity scene with lots of animals to accompany Mary, Joseph, and Jesus. The low-key donkey was a placid contrast to some of the llamas and goats that helped make up the menagerie.
Away in a Manger

Lunch at the Manger
This year, we’ll be visiting the kerstmarkt again, although it will also be held at Janskerkhof this year, in addition to the Twijnstraat location. Either way, we’ll be heading to Nicolaikerk on Saturday to listen to the Christmas and Advent Concert in the church, which I’m sure will help generate a bit more holiday spirit.
Nikolaaskerk

Please hop on over to the other blogs taking part in today’s blog hope. Many of them are giving away special prizes, as well as sharing their expat life.

Blog in France Bloghop

A Flamingo in Utrecht
Expat Christmas
Box53b
Word By Word
Vive Trianon
Fifty Shades of Greg
Books Are Cool
Perpignan Post
Jive Turkish
Very Bored in Catalunya
Life on La Lune
Scribbler in Seville
Blog in France Christmas
Les Fragnes Christmas
ReadEng. Didi's Press
Steve Bichard .com
Edit My Book
Zombie Christmas
Christmas in Cordoba
The best Christmas blog ever
The Christmas Surprise.
Sci-fi Writer Jeno Marz
The best Christmas quilting blog ever
Painting in Tuscany
The Business of Life…
Funny tweets
we've got a new house but no stuff and it's Christmas
Paris Cheapskate
What about your saucepans?
When I Wasn't Home for Christmas or Celebrating
ShockWaves Launch Party
The French Village Diaries
Melanged Magic
Heads Above Water: Staying Afloat in France
Piccavey.com – An English Girl in Granada
Bordeaux Bumpkin
French immersion
Callaloo Soup
Grigory Ryzhakov
Piglet in Portugal
Beyond MÃnana
Chronicles of M Blog