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.