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A Holland Christmas For Expats

Sinterklass on his White Horse


Many of you know that I grew up in Holland during the 1960s. It was an experience that shaped much of my life with respect to habits, interests, and most importantly, travel. It was also an experience I wish every American could have during their lifetime.

So many of us think the world revolves around the United States. Well, it doesn’t. We are fortunate to live in the greatest country in the world, but we share the world with others. Living in a foreign land will open up so many things to the American expat. You will experience different traditions, cultures, and a lot of really, really good food you never would have had otherwise. One of those traditions that might be different for you will be Christmas.

Here comes Sinterklass…

In Holland, it is Sinterklaas along with his helpers, Zwarte Pieten, who will visit you on the evening of 5 December, the night before St. Nicholas Day. You will leave your wooden shoes (I still have mine) outside the door. Since Sinterklaas arrives by boat and then mounts his white horse to lead a procession through town, you will definitely want to put some hay and carrots in your wooden shoes for his horse.

Now here’s the deal, if you’ve been good that year, Sinterklaas will leave you sweets in your wooden shoe. However, if you’ve been bad, he will leave black coal. And that’s not all. Zwarte Piet will take you back to Spain for one year (Sinterklaas is a native of Madrid, Spain) and teach you how to be a good boy or girl. Have fun with that!

Saint Nicholas arriving by boat. Photo (2005). MarkDB. PD. Wikimedia Commons.

Christmas day in Holland is a time for religious observance, time with the family, and a very nice dinner. Mom and Dad would take us to a church service that day. I didn’t understand the Dutch language but I have to tell you, the music was great.

With 6 you get Eggroll

Our 3 children and their spouses, Sandy’s parents and my father will all be here with the 4 great grand children. So whatever your traditions are, religious or otherwise, Sandy and I wish you all the happiest of holidays.

Absolutely no coal for our grandchildren this year. They get a hall pass with Sinterklaas until they are 5 years old.

Do we have a lot of stories? Of course we do. I’m looking forward to sharing these with you. Please continue to visit our newsletter and blog. Perhaps you’d like to subscribe so that you don’t miss out on the most recent newsletter and blog posts.

Thanks so much for following my newsletter and blogs as well as my little journey through this incredibly interesting process of writing a series of niche walking tour books based on European historical periods or events.

Please note that I do not and will not take compensation from individuals or companies I mention or promote in my blog.

– Stew

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Please note that I do not and will not take compensation from individuals or companies I mention or promote in my blog.

Copyright © 2014 Stew Ross

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