We all know that the tradition of Sinterklaas can sometimes be confusing for expats who are unfamiliar with it. The responsible thing to do would be to truth-ally explain the many interesting details and facts about the much loved Dutch tradition and leave it at that… But sometimes it’s just fun to mess with them and make stuff up.
Welcome to; Lies About The Dutch – The Sinterklaas Edition!
For expats living in The Netherlands who have never heard of the name Sinterklaas or seen a Zwarte Piet before November and December can become a very confusing time of year. This much loved Dutch tradition naturally leaves them with a lot of questions. What is Pakjesavond and why are children leaving their shoes out? Who is Sinterklaas and why does he own a steam boat? Who are the Zwarte Piet and why do they seem to have gotten their shoe polish mixed up with their face cream? It can be a very confusing time of year indeed.
But fear not. All these answers and more can be found right here in this collection of useful and comical Invading Holland guides that will help you figure out what the heck is going on (just click the titles):
It’s never a good idea to compare Sinterklaas to Santa Clause, not unless you want to seriously damage diplomatic relations between The Netherlands and your own country. This humorous guide helps highlight the key differences between the two so that you never again accidentally mix them up and risk deportation.
It’s always best to tell the truth if you want to stay out of Sinterklaas’ naughty book. But sometimes it’s just fun to mess with confused expats.
When I discovered Sinterklaas’ address I knew I had to send him a letter. I had so many unanswered questions about the Dutch tradition. Maybe he could help. Could he? Maybe not. He’s probably very busy… Little did I know that a few days later I would get a reply directly from the man himself.
If you are on Santa’s naughty list are you automatically on Sinterklaas’ naughty list? If Sinterklaas spends 11 months of the year in Spain why doesn’t he have more of a tan? Is Sinterklaas an eccentric billionaire? There are some questions that it’s simply best not to ask the Dutch when Sinterklaas comes to town. These two post asks them anyway.
Every year Sinterklaas’ boat journey from Spain to Holland is diligently followed on the news. Every present over board and every rough wave is reported with the up most journalistic credibility for the children of Holland and every year the question is the same. Will Sinterklaas arrive in time? Normally he does but what if the problems he encountered were much more… challenging?
A personal story about the time I almost met Sinterklaas himself, the lengths I went to to make it happen and an interesting conundrum about what exactly is considered stalking.
When I opened the letter box and saw the envelope I instantly knew what it was. An official reply from Sinterklaas himself! An actual letter from the Sint uit Spanje! My eyes went wide, my heart skipped a beat and I made a sound that some might consider a squeal of delight. Fully of excitement I rushed up stairs as fast as I could to share the news. I burst into the living room, waving the envelope in the air like it was a winning lottery ticket.
“I got a reply! I got a reply!”
My wife didn’t even have to ask. I’d been talking about this moment for days. She knew exactly what I was blathering about without a moment’s hesitation and, like me, was instantly excited.
“Open it! Open it!” She urged me.
But I wanted to savour this moment. Forcing myself to be calm I put the envelope down on the table and for a short while we both just looked at it, pondering what might be inside. You don’t just rush opening a letter from Sinterklaas. It is an important moment in any 33 year old man’s life.
I gave myself a moment and then… when I was ready I took a deep breath, slowly picked the envelope up from the table, carefully opened it, took the letter out from inside, cautiously unfolded it and then… handed it to my wife for translation.
This is amazing! I might not have received an answer to my questions but I am still so happy to get a letter from Sinterklaas himself… and even a personal message from the writing Piet (who might be on to me that I was not completely honest about my age). Sinterklaas must have also realized I enjoy drawing cartoons because he included a colouring activity sheet on the back of the letter.Thank you Sinterklaas.
In order to get the official answer to a few of the questions I have pondered in previous posts I did this…
Do you think he will answer? I didn’t specifically mentioned that I am a 33 year old man and not a small child but I believe it is implied through the use of language and grammar.