Sinterklaas versus Santa Claus,
This story reads like a glossy Marvel comic, complete with super heroes, villans, personality theft and counter fitted money!
You still remember the moment someone told you that your superhero has no real powers and his real identity is false. You remember your disbelieve, your disappointment, your grieve, your tears and finely your attempts to reestablish his full glory. Well that at least was how I felt when a stupid kid at school told me that Sinterklaas did nor really exist. The explanation that he had helpers and Stand inns, acting on his behalve, made the myth last a little longer but finally the veil had to fall. But even after that, and still, the celebration around Sinterklaas is a wonderful tradition that is cherished in the hearts of the Dutch.
Let me explain “Sinterklaas” if this superhero is new to you. This 4-th, century Christian bishop from Myra in south Turkey, liked to give presents and as history tells had the power to raise children from the death. His costume was one of extreme beauty, with white gloves, golden rings and a hero cape in red, well that is how I remember him.
Every year he arrives in Holland, the Netherlands on a steamboat from Spain, in the company of many helpers, called:”Black Pieten”. These dark colored guys are funny, athletic, and up to any task Sint asks them to, which could include, if you misbehaved this year, that you will end up in their sack! So is this still a children bedtime story? Oh yes the children love the excitement, even with the risk of ending in the zak/sack of Sinterklaas, the sweets that are involved are so tempting, and than I have to mention the gifts that are on hand.
As a child you sing along the songs of the full moon, the boat and the fact that you have been a good kid that year. You set your shoe in front of the fireplace, with a cup of water, some sugar cubes and possibly a big carrot, all for the horse of Sinterklaas. You behave better than normally, and then you are out of the danger zone of missing any potential presents that he might bring for you.
This all happens before the 5-th of December, which is the final night, “PAKJES-AVOND”, or the “night of gifts”. Families gather together, with grandparents, aunts, crying children and barking dogs. Hot chocolate is handed out, and when a banging on the door followed immediately with a burst of sweets, thrown in by Piet, the presents are placed in front of the house by helpful neighbors. This evening is one to remember, all presents are coming with a short or longer poem, which have to be red out loud. It can concern hints about the wrapped present, some issues that the unknown giver wants settled, or a more or lesser funny events that happened to you that year and is retold in a poem and sometimes visualized in a “SURPRISE-GIFT”.
This feast of excitement is under threat of being overtaken by Santa Claus. The popularity of Santa is still rising in the Netherlands to the extent that the Sinterklaas lovers asked commerce to back off and give the Bishop Sint-Nicolaas, the original gift-giver some space in the beginning of December. It is noticeable that the amount of Santa’s and Christmas decorations are on hold in Holland until Sints boat has left the Dutch harbor on the 6-th of December.
But Santa is the one that shoots faster than his shadow Sinterklaas. As colonists heading for the new world took their traditions over the Ocean with them on board was Sinterklaas and the British Father Christmas. Once set foot on dry land they merged together in time. Taking form first as a thick bellied smoking Dutch sailor dressed in green, to a small more elf like type. In 1862 Thomas Nast draw him as as a happy white bearded man, shaping Santa further over a period of 30 years! The advertisement department of Coca Cola shaped Santa into his present form from the 1920-ties.
Santa being the reincarnation of the European Sin Nicolaas, which himself took over the pagan heritage of Odin, the pre-christian Germanic God, it is no wonder that we can speak of severe identity theft over time. As old traditions die, new once are born, but let us linger a bit more over my, ehhhh ….our Sinterklaas.
Here a recipe of a typical Sinterklaas sweet, called “PEPERNOTEN”, or nuts with pepper.
WHAT YOU NEED :
250 gram / 9 ounce self-raising flower
250 gram / 9 ounce liquid honey
2 teaspoon of mixed spices/koekkruiden; consisting off cardemon/white pepper/cinnamon/cloves/ginger/nutmeg, all in powder form
1 tablespoon Annice seed, finely grounded
a pinch of salt
HOW TO MAKE IT :
Mix all together in a bowl except the flower
Sift the flower over the mixture, and work it into a soft dough
Let it rest, plastic wrapped, for 1 hour in the fridge
Preheat your oven at 200 degrees Celsius / 390 Fahrenheit
Cut the dough in five pieces, and roll these into long snakelike rolls
Cut these into dices, and press them on the bakingtray with your thumb and fingers
You end up with a tray full of uneven shaped cones
Bake them for 9 minutes, or until lightly colored
Let them rest to cool down, before you dig in
Give the idea of Sinterklaas a go, and wrap something nice for your loved ones along with a small poem. They will love Sinterklaas, that’s you, for it. When presenting them also with this sweet treat, you will be the man, … or women. 😉
with love from the Dutch Sint
Let me know what is on your mind
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SINTERKLAAS SONGS http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-NaQLLledxg
HISTORY ON THE SUBJECT IN DUTCH http://www.geschiedenis24.nl/nieuws/2004/november/De-herkomst-van-Sinterklaas.html
ARRIVALS OF SINT WORLD WIDE http://www.sinterklaasintocht.info/
COCA COLA’S SANTA HISTORY http://www.coca-colacompany.com/stories/coke-lore-santa-claus