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Monograph

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Sinterklaasavond

Or Sinterklaas Evening as it might be known in English is the 5th of December. However our Sintaklaas party was postponed due to illness, so my introduction to this rather lovely Dutch ritual was postponed until the 7th. Here's how it works

Guests arrive and like all good guests they throw candy on the floor. Called pepernoten this is special Sinterklaas candy, a mixture of small ginger nuts and sugary shapes. Decorations over it is time to move to stage two

Singing Sinterklaas, as I mentioned earlier on this blog, is attracted by singing and has been known to leave candy as a result. On Sinterklaas day though there is a chance he might leave even more so you sing extra hard, especially as in our case we were two days late and he was probably already on his way back to Spain. We weren't sure things would work but then...

A knock at the door I was sent to investigate and lo and behold there was a sack full of presents outside! I looked around for evidence of who might have left it, but they'd gone. Given the time it takes our lifts to do anything I think you'd have needed some kind of magic horse to leave the sack!

Present giving Each present comes wrapped in a package, and attatched to it is a poem. Sometimes there are other instructions on the present, such as 'wait five minutes' or 'don't open A until you have B' and so on. Presents are handed out, poems are read and everyone is very thankful that Sintaklaas is so kind.

Here is a poem that was for me. It's from one of the Swarte Pieten, Sint's helpers.

"Dear Martin

When Sint came down to Osdorp square
English Martin was standing there
Hoping for candy and toys
But who got it? All the smaller boys
Later that evening, Piet was told
Martin isn't 27 years old
Inside he's really only three
You must give him something from me
Something that will give him a laugh
When playing games in th bath
And so Piet did
Is this OK kid?

Piet

Although this poem was nice (and I got blowing bubbles!) some are a little more pointed. Poems about how I need to get a job (and things to help me do it) and a suggestion that my other half could be a little more patient with my language skills both appeared. Observant chap this Sint, but always good humoured.

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