Happy Pakjesavond

Pepernoten

The pepernoten are flowing and flying, the pakjes (presents) are all wrapped up with poems at the ready, the Piets are knocking on doors and windows and dropping off sacks of presents or bagging up naughty children, and the Sint is ready to head back to Spain.

It’s pakjesavond, the night when Sinterklaas and the Piets hand out presents to all the boys and girls who have been good this year. I don’t think we’ve been very good, so no presents for us tonight. That said, I did make sure we stocked up on the chocolate kruidnoten today so I’ll have enough to last me for the next few months. They’re perfect with a cup of tea or coffee!
Presents
Making Waves
Greetings

Even the Santas Are Tall

Santa Hats
We went for a wander through the kerstmarkt on Twijnstraat today and had a festive time. The market was even bigger this year and there were some really lovely items, as well as lots of tasty food and drink. We had our first gluhwein of the season, sipped after heading down one of the narrow alleys down to the Oudegracht. It’s always a nice break midway from the crowds!

From the very beginning of the market, there were people giving out free Santa hats. I got one, which came in handy at times since it was misting with rain. One of the people giving out the hats was the giant Santa on stilts. Or is he just particularly tall and skinny? Here in the Netherlands, it’s hard to tell sometimes!

Dutch Saint Nick
However, there was also a more traditionally sized Santa on hand, and kids could sit on his lap and have their picture taken (by their parents). There was even a Mrs. Claus, as it turns out, although I didn’t see her until later and didn’t get a photo.

The market is taking place again next weekend, so be sure to check it out if you can make it into town. I think there will also be a market at Janskerkhof. They were there yesterday, in small numbers, but there was no market there today.

Also, if you’re in the Den Haag area and want to order some Christmas baked goods this season, don’t forget my dear friends over at American Baking Company! They’ve even made a little video to wish you all a happy holiday season.

Sailing With Sinterklaas

Sinterklaas Intocht

It’s that time of year again. Sinterklaas made his annual trip by steamboat from Spain to start his festivities here in the Netherlands. All across the country yesterday, Sinterklaas multiplied like Tribbles and made his grand entrance up and down canals, ports and rivers.

Sinterklaas

In Utrecht, he made his journey up the Oudegracht canal before disembarking at the Weerdesluis to then proceed on his trusty steed, Amerigo. From there they paraded through the center of town, heading to the Domplein and other locations, strewing pepernoten everywhere he and Zwarte Pieten went.

Ta Da!

For the next few weeks, until December 5, there will be a run on carrots and chocolate letters as kids and parents make the nightly exchange: kids leaving carrots in their shoes for Amerigo, and parentsSinterklaas leaving behind chocolate letters, pepernoten, and other small treats for the kids.

Pepernoten A.U.B

I keep meaning to buy some klompen (wooden shoes) for our furry kids to set out for Sinterklaas. After all, human kids aren’t the only ones that go see Sinterklaas’ arrival.
For Furry Kids, Too

It’s a good thing I went on foot yesterday to see the arrival. The city was packed and traffic was a nightmare. Parking was particularly tough. Even the city’s many squares, both small and large, were converted into parking lots for the day.
Extra Parking

Parking