Dutch traditions

Strange Dutch Celebrations: Having a baby in the Netherlands

This is the last post in the mini-series: Strange Dutch Celebrations.

(Just in case you missed the other posts: Seeing Abraham & Sarah (Turning 50 in the Netherlands) and The 12 and a half year wedding anniversary.)

Beschuit met muisjes

From these previous posts, we learned that Dutch people are a bit barmy when it comes to celebrating birthdays and anniversaries… So what happens when they have a baby?

Well, my dear readers… you’re in for a treat! It’s about to get a whole lot weirder.

Back home, in England, when someone has a baby… they will probably call their Mum… and then after a few days, the (hopefully) happy couple will get in touch with other friends and family to announce their new arrival. Some people plaster the event all over Facebook. Their choice.

In Holland?

You just announce it to the whole street! With coloured banners, bunting, balloons etc (blue for a boy, pink for a girl) possibly a stork… and any other baby related paraphernalia you can think of.

Situatie gewijzigd = situation changed

Situatie gewijzigd = situation changed

Situation changed! It sure has!!

Then comes the baby announcement card aka the Geboortekaartje.

Organised parents-to-be will have already selected the card design and the baby name, so when their little bundle of joy arrives… all they have to do is fill in the date, time and weight at birth. Oh and because they’re Dutch = the baby’s length! A very important detail!

The geboortekaartje (literally: birth card) is something we Brits could definitely learn from the Dutch! All the vital statistics, on one piece of card – it’s so handy! (Especially if you’re like me: terrible with remembering birthdays and suchlike!)

So. You’ve got your card – which means you’re part of the inner circle. Now to visit the little pipsqueak.

Brace yourselves for the worst part.

Even worse than holding a brand new, tiny baby and thinking the whole time: “Shit… what if I drop it!?”

You need to eat a rusk with butter and aniseed balls on top.

Beschuit met Muisjes

Beschuit met Muisjes

Told you.

**Bleeeeeeeeeugh!**

I’m not a baby. I don’t eat rusk. I especially don’t eat rusk with butter! I especially, especially don’t eat rusk with butter and ANISEED BALLS!!

Yet, it’s a Dutch custom… so when a baby is born, you’ve got to do it.

Beschuit met muisjes (literally: rusk with little mice, real meaning: rusk with aniseed balls) come in three types. White and blue balls for a boy. White and pink balls for a girl. And white and orange balls when a new member of the Royal family is born!

Are you looking forward to geboortekaartjes dropping through your letterbox!? Wahahahaha!!

Hayley x

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Strange Dutch Celebrations: 12 and a half year wedding anniversary

Wedding rings

Next month it’ll be mine and the Dutchie’s 1 year wedding anniversary. WOW – how quick has that gone!? So now seems like a good time to talk about Dutch wedding anniversaries… but first, to put it into context… here’s what we’re used to in the UK (and from what I can gather, it’s pretty similar in the US too).

The English tend to celebrate their wedding anniversaries every year, well at least the two of them anyway. But how long do you have to wait until it’s time for a big old party!? Generally, people celebrate ‘properly’ when they make it to 20 or 25 years.

In case you’re not au fait with traditional wedding anniversary names, here’s the list of edited highlights:

1st Paper
10th Tin
15th Crystal
20th China
25th Silver
30th Pearl
40th Ruby
50th Gold
60th Diamond

The names of some of the anniversaries are supposed to provide guidance for appropriate gifts for the spouses to give each other, but I’m not sure if people still do that nowadays. We still call the biggies by their traditional names though, for example most people would know what a “Golden” wedding anniversary is.

So anyway, if you’re Dutch… when do you celebrate your wedding anniversary?

After 12 and a half years, of course!

Sorry, you what?

So you get married in August 2014 and you have a party to celebrate your anniversary in February 2027… Riiiiiiight…

12.5 jaar getrouwd

Good old Wikipedia confirms that in Holland, they also have a similar method to the UK, but they also (apparently) celebrate 37 ½ months, 6 ¼ years and 12 ½ years:

jaar = year
maanden = months

1 jaar Katoen (Cotton)
37 ½ maanden Blik (Tin)
6 ¼ jaar IJzer (Iron)
10 jaar Blik (Tin)
12 ½ jaar Koper (Copper)
20 jaar Porselein (Porcelain)
25 jaar Zilver (Silver)
30 jaar Parel (Pearl)
40 jaar Robijn (Ruby)
50 jaar Goud (Gold)
60 jaar Diamant (Diamond)

And the real reason why the Dutch celebrate 12 ½ years of marriage? They can’t be arsed to wait 25 years for an excuse to party!

Hear! Hear!

Yet another reason why I love the Dutch.

Hayley x

20 Reasons why King’s Day in Amsterdam is the worst street party in Europe

Koningsdag or King’s Day (27th April) in the Netherlands is such a boring day. Especially if you go to Amsterdam – then it’s particularly awful. I wouldn’t recommend you go, definitely not. You’ll have a rubbish time. Honest.

1. Everyone wears sensible, somber clothing. Mostly black or grey.

Kings Day

By DirkvdM (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.5] via Wikimedia Commons

2. No one drinks. At all.

Beers

3. Especially not on the street. There is a high level of class and decorum at all times.

Drinking cider on Queens Day

4. No fun is allowed. And especially no dancing!

Dancing at Kings Day

5. And strictly no Dad Dancing.

Dancing on Queens Day

6. The canals are really empty and boring too. Nothing going on there.

Amsterdam Canals

By Carmelrmd (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Wikimedia Commons

7. The streets are deserted. Nothing to see here!

Jordaan on Kings Day

8. There’s nothing to do. You can’t get funny caricatures of yourself drawn on the street by Stan Heinze, Dutch caricaturist and comic artist.

Getting caricature drawn on Kings Day

8. Or throw wet sponges at your mates for shits and giggles.

Wet sponge throwing

9. You definitely can’t do that. I told you – no fun allowed.

Queens Day Sponge Throwing

10. There’s no messing around or being silly. Or you’ll get arrested by the fun police.

Queens Day Fun

11. The parks are completely desolate on King’s Day. Especially Vondelpark. Completely empty.

Vondelpark Queens Day

12. There’s no one taking advantage of the vrijmarkt (free market) and selling their old tat.

Vondelpark Queens Day

13. Or asking you to pay 50 cents to look in a box.

Queens Day 2011

14. And did I mention… NO DRINKING!

Drinking on Kings Day

15. And under no circumstances can roads be closed or traffic stopped for revellers.

Queens Day 2011

16. Later on in the evening, everyone is completely sober. No parties, no staying up late. Everyone just has an early night.

Kings Day Holland tshirt

17. Completely, 100% sober. I told you, right?

Queens Day drunk people

18. It definitely doesn’t get blurry. And people definitely don’t crash their boats whilst drunk.

Queens Day Late

19. You see, King Willem-Alexander is a very sober man. Never had a drink in his life… and his nickname definitely wasn’t Prins Pils (Lager Prince) in his student days, before be became King.

Koningsdag

By Erikt (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Wikimedia Commons

20. Happy King’s Day everyone. I hope you have a really ongezellig time. Better to just stay at home that day really.

Queens Day

Hayley x

Strange Dutch Celebrations: Seeing Abraham & Sarah

Irene Van Dam made a comment on a recent post that she’d love to hear my stories about ‘special events’ which Dutch people celebrate – like birthdays, anniversaries and newborns. Great idea – thanks, Irene. Your wish is my command!

I’ve already written about Dutch circle parties, which are weird in themselves! But imagine if it’s a special birthday, say you turn 50… believe me, it’s about to get a whole lot freakier!

50th Birthdays –  Or “Seeing” Abraham / Sarah

Abrahamoffice2

So, you’re turning 50. Maybe you want to keep it quiet, have a small meal with the family, something like that. Live in the Netherlands? NO SUCH LUCK!

Your home, garden or place of work (or all three!) will be decorated by your ‘loving’ friends and family with posters, banners, balloons and a life-sized doll of YOU.

Turning 50 in the Netherlands is a BIG BLOODY DEAL!

Apparently it means you are old enough and wise enough to have ‘seen Abraham’ or if you’re a woman – old enough to have ‘seen Sarah’ and your whole street will know about it! The names come from the biblical figures, Abraham and his wife Sarah. According to the bible, Abraham lived until he was 175 and Sarah until she was 127… so if you make it to 50 you’re deemed old enough to have ‘wisdom through experience’.

Traditionally there’s a big party with, you guessed it – cake!

Or, if your friends are jokers, you might get something like this…

Exhibit A:

Abraham

This was given to my brother-in-law on his 50th birthday party, rather than a traditional cake. Basically it’s just another excuse (much like the Sinterklaas poems) to take the piss out of your friends and loved ones.

His office was decorated like so… (smiley used to cover his handsome face – sorry, bro!)

Abrahamoffice

(The thing on the right is a dummy, looks pretty realistic huh?)

In addition to the hullabaloo at work… he also had a party at home to celebrate. At his birthday BBQ he was given a zimmer frame while we – his friends and family – sang a song to him about how past it and ‘over the hill’ he is. Nice, huh!?

But don’t get mad… get even! Just save up your cruel ideas for when your friends and colleagues turn 50. Or if that’s passed already: 60, 70, 80… they’re all celebrated. Along with 1/2 Abraham or Sarah for when you’re 25!! Then you get half a cake. Crazy Dutchies!

Other ‘kroonjaren’ (translates to crown years) are celebrated as follows:

25 Half Abraham (or Sara / Sarah)
50 Abraham (or Sara / Sarah)
60 Isaac / Isaak (or Elisabeth / Elizabeth / Rebekka / Rebecca)
70 Jacob  (or Anna / Rachel / Lea)
80 Joseph (or Deborah / Asnath)
90 Anthony / Antonius / Efraïm (or Ruth)
100 Methusalem (or Judith)

Names seem to vary (possibly according to region? Help me out here please…) but it’s every 10 years anyway.

Here’s how it’s done the traditional way… the cake my schoonmoeder  was given for her 70th birthday, or ‘Lea’. Accompanied by a big circle party, natuurlijk! 

Lea cake - 70

Looking forward to your birthday now??

Hayley x

Ps – coming up next in this ‘Strange Dutch Celebrations’ mini-series: Having a baby & Celebrating 12.5 years of marriage. If there are any other weird celebrations you can think of that you’d like me to explore… please let me know!

22 Dutch Foods You Must Try

Get your taste buds ready to sample some traditional Dutch food! In order to experience the Netherlands in an authentic way, you just HAVE to try traditional Dutch cuisines and specialties. So, here are the Top 22 Dutch foods you must try:

1. Haring (Hollandse Nieuwe) 

Ok, so herring isn’t that weird. But the Dutch like to eat it raw. To eat it the traditional way: tip your head back, grab the fish by the tail and bite upwards! Completely unglamorous, but fun! If this doesn’t appeal, it can be eaten in a bun, with or without optional extras: finely chopped onion and/or sliced gherkins. Eaten this way, it’s called a broodje haring.

Herring is available all year round, but if caught between May and July, it is referred to as Hollandse Nieuwe. The herring season starts every year with the traditional auction of the first tub of Nieuwe Haring. After that, herring may be sold everywhere and ‘herring feasts’ are organised in many towns and cities.

© Alix Guillard / Creative Commons / CC BY 2.0

© Alix Guillard / Creative Commons / CC BY 2.0

2. Stroopwafels

Stroop = syrup/treacle and I’ll let you guess what wafel is 😉 This is Holland’s most famous pastry dish – quite rightly! A stroopwafel is made of two thin layers of baked dough/batter/waffley stuff with a caramel-like syrup filling in the middle. LEKKER! 

Stroopwafels

3. Drop

Dutch people love liquorice. So much so, they eat on average 2kg per person, per year! That’s (unsurprisingly) more than any other country in the world.

A word of warning: they also think it’s a funny game to try and feed it to unsuspecting foreigners! Kijk uit! (Watch out!)

Liquorice choices

© Autopilot / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0

4. Friet / Frieten / Patat / Patatje 

Chips. These are all names for the same thing, depending on where in the Netherlands you live. There are also disagreements about what they’re called with different combinations of toppings, but it goes a little something like this:

  • Friet of patat met mayo: chips with mayonnaise
  • Patat met satésaus: chips with peanut sauce
  • Patatje oorlog: chips with a combination of peanut saté sauce, mayo and onions
  • Patat speciaal: chips with curry ketchup, mayonnaise and onion
  • I’ve given up caring… just give me some chips.

5. Frikandel

My nemesis. They do however belong on this list, because they are VERY popular in the Netherlands… and you should try everything once!

A frikandel is a long, thin, skinless, dark-coloured meat sausage. Usually eaten warm. They are often served with curry ketchup or mayonnaise, though some eat it with tomato ketchup, mustard or even apple sauce (!)

6. Oliebollen

(Literally: oil spheres) I got in a lot of trouble on a previous post for saying that they’re “basically doughnuts”! Dutch people are clearly very passionate about oliebollen and will defend them to within an inch of their life. So ok, I will amend my statement: they are similar to doughnuts…

The history of the origin of doughnuts is disputed, but one theory (the preferred theory for Dutch people) is that Dutch immigrants introduced them to the States, so if it’s true then it’s actually their fault that Americans have such high cholesterol. 😉

The dough is made from flour, eggs, yeast, salt, milk, baking powder and usually sultanas or raisins. They’re then sprinkled with icing sugar. Oliebollen are traditionally eaten at New Year but there are oliebollen stands around for the whole festive period (so basically the whole of December).

Oliebollen

© Takeaway / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0

7. Kibbeling

Deep fried pieces of fish, I guess it’s Holland’s answer to fish and chips (if ordered with een portie patat). Originally cod cheeks were used – but due to high prices of cod, today you might be served off-cuts of cod or possibly even hake, pollock or whiting.

8. Poffertjes

These sweet little treats are popular in winter and you will often see dedicated Poffertje stalls and stands. Poffertjes are small, fluffy pancakes, served with powdered sugar and butter (yup, you read that right – butter!) and sometimes syrup.

9. Stamppot

Meaning “mash pot”. Stamppot consists of (lumpy) mashed potato with vegetables of your choice thrown in. Popular vegetable choices include sauerkraut, spinach, swede, carrot, onion and kale (with kale it is known as boerenkool). Stamppot is often served with rookworst (smoked sausage) and/or bacon lardons.

If you’re lucky, you’ll also get gravy: make a small hole in mash and fill it with gravy, known in Dutch as a kuiltje jus (little gravy pit).

Stamppot

10. Erwtensoep (of Snert)

Pea soup. Typically made from dried peas, such as the split pea. A bit like English pea soup… but better!

11. Speculaas

Spiced shortcrust biscuit, served around Sinterklaas time. Dutch people go wild for it. You can also get spreadable versions, with a peanut butter kind of consistency. Niet mijn ding. (Not my thing) but each to their own and all that.

12. Hagelslag

… or sprinkles as we call them in England. Not that weird, on top of your ice cream, but the Dutch eat this on bread, with butter, for breakfast!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If you really want to fit in, give it a go!

Hagelslag

13. Filet Americain

This has a bit of a Marmite reputation: you either love it or hate it (probably more do to with the associated health risks than the taste!) Personally, I bloody love the stuff!

It’s like a steak tartare, but in spread form. A sandwich spread, if you will. Normally served raw on bread with onion, and if you’re feeling a bit fancy – add mayonnaise and a hard boiled egg.

14. Appeltaart

Apple pie is an English thing, dating back hundreds of years but it’s also popular with the Dutch, Swedes and of course the Americans. Dutch appeltaart (apple tart) is hugely popular and a different variation of what you’ve had a home, so worth giving a go!

15. Vlammetjes

One of The Dutchie’s absolute favourites – he missed these loads when we lived in England. Vlammetjes translates as ‘little flames’.  Spicy ground beef enveloped in a little parcel and deep-fried, normally served with sweet chilli sauce. (The things sandwiched between the bitterballen!)

IMG_3169

16. Ossenworst

Originally made of ox meat, hence the name, this raw beef sausage originated in Amsterdam and is often served with Amsterdamse uitjes (Amsterdam onions) which are onions pickled with turmeric or saffron to give them the yellow colouring.

17. Pannenkoeken

Dutch pancakes are much larger and thinner than American or Scotch pancakes. They can come sweet or savoury and are offered with a gazillion topping options.

Pannenkoeken are so popular here that there are tons of dedicated pancake restaurants throughout the Netherlands. The only choice you need to make is what to put on it!

18. Kapsalon 

Try this after the pub, when you’ve had a belly full of beer.

Kapsalon: chips, kebab meat or shawarma with cheese – normally Gouda. It is often served with a dressed salad, garlic sauce and a hot sauce or sambal. In my opinion… the yummiest kebab possible. Kapsalon also means hairdresser or hairdressing salon, after the creator – a hairdresser from Rotterdam!

19. Kroketten

Similar to bitterballen but cylindrical in shape. (Bitterballen are better.) They come in a variety of fillings: beef, pork, satay sauce (peanut sauce), vegetable, potato, shrimp/prawn… make sure you know what you’re getting as they all look the same! Sold almost anywhere, in supermarkets, restaurants, snack bars and even in McDonald’s.

20. Kaas

The Dutch are famous for their cheese. Obviously – it’s amazing! The best known is Gouda, followed by Edam and Leerdammer (the trademarked name, thought it is often just called Maasdam).

You’ll struggle not to try cheese in the Netherlands… it’s everywhere! The best places to sample different cheeses are specialist cheese shops, or alternatively, most pubs will have cheese on their bar snack menu. Go for the oude kaas (literally: old cheese).

© kaasmisdrijf / Creative Commons / CC-BY-2.5

© kaasmisdrijf / Creative Commons / CC-BY-2.5

21. Smeerkaas sambal

I can’t let the occasion pass without mentioning my personal favourite spreadable substance… ok I lied, that’s Marmite. My second favourite then. Spread cheese with sambal (a hot sauce made from chilli peppers). It’s amaaaaaaazing.

22. Bitterballen

And last but certainly not least… I can’t miss off my precious deep-fried balls of heaven!

THE best borrelhapje (bar snack) imaginable.

(New here? Want to know what bitterballen are?)

IMG_2947

What’s YOUR favourite Dutch food? Anything missing from this list?

Hayley x

Being Dutch – Part 11: Birthday Parties

To start, I need to put this into context for people who have not attended an English birthday party: You go to the birthday person’s house (laden with booze) or to a bar. You get drunk, dance, tell bad jokes and possibly pass out on the floor somewhere. There might be a few nibbles, namely cheese & pineapple on sticks and possibly a few sausage rolls. But mainly… it’s about the drinking… or as we say “partying”.

Dutch birthday parties on the other hand are a whole other kettle of fish…

A typical scene at a Dutch Birthday Party

A typical scene at a Dutch Birthday Party

1. Arrival and greetings

Upon arrival (probably by bike, if you live in the neighbourhood) you need to greet the birthday boy or girl. You don’t say “Happy Birthday”, but “Gefeliciteerd” (meaning “congratulations”) and give them 3 kisses.  It’s a hard word to pronounce for English speakers, but don’t worry, you’ll get plenty of practice as you’re also expected to congratulate the family of the birthday boy/girl as well! Yep – really! So for example “Gefeliciteerd met je zoon” (“Congratulations with your son”) and don’t forget the 3 kisses! (I should probably do a post about the 3 kiss thing as well, but in short, if you know the person well – 3 kisses, if not – shake their hand.)

You also have to greet everyone at the party individually. For this, a simple “Hallo, ik ben Hayley” (Hello, I’m Hayley) will do – with a handshake for strangers and 3 kisses for people you know. (Obviously don’t tell people you already know your name – or they might think you’re a bit mental.) Dutch people love introducing themselves and children above a certain age (don’t ask me the age – what do I know about kids!?) are also expected to introduce themselves. Personally, I think this is a wonderful thing – encouraging kids to be sociable – but once they’ve shaken your hand they’ll go back to playing their video game or watching TV. Ah well, at least they tried…

2. Coffee and Cake

Greetings done, you’ll now be offered coffee/tea and some cake. Yes, you read that right – CAKE!!! At the beginning of a party – surely that’s a dessert!?

3. The Circle of Doom

Chairs are arranged into a circle formation and people chat politely about the weather and so on for several hours or until the cake is gone.

4. Alcohol – woo hoo! 

Then it’s time for an alcoholic drink. Woo hoo! Party time!!!!!!!!! Right!? Wrong. There’s no music and you continue to sit in a circle and chat with your circle party neighbours.

At this point there might be some food. If it’s winter you’ll most likely get… wait for it… SOUP! How on earth do you eat soup whilst holding a drink and a conversation at the same time?? Commenter Imelda adds: “you know why we serve soup at parties, right? Because its cheap 😉” Her words, not mine.

Kids will probably be served broodje knakworst (a hotdog in a bun) and chippies (a cute word for crisps). In summer there will probably be bread and leverworst (liver sausage) and hopefully some oude kaas (literally: old cheese) Yum!

5. Go home

Then, come 6pm it’s time to leave. Yup, the Dutch have start and finish times for their parties!

Could it have something to do with the fact that it’s the birthday boy or girl’s job to buy all of the food & drinks for the occasion? And while we’re on the subject… Work in an office? You’ll also need to buy cake for the whole workforce. Happy bloody Birthday!

Have you been to a Dutch birthday party? What did you think?

Hayley x

 

 

Mijn Eerste Sinterklaas

(My first Sinterklaas.) So, first things first: who or what is Sinterklaas? 

Sinterklaas is the Dutch version of the traditional figure, Saint Nicholas. Not to be confused with Santa or Father Christmas… he doesn’t come on 24th December or have reindeer or live in the North Pole.

Sinterklaas arrives in the Netherlands on steamboat from Spain in mid-November with his helpers called ‘Zwarte Pieten’ (‘Black Petes’) and for the next couple of weeks there are Sinterklaas related events around the country (mostly involving Zwarte Piets throwing kruidnoten or pepernoten into the crowd – we’ll talk about those in a sec) before he heads back to Spain on his birthday, 6th December, for a well-deserved rest!

5th December is known as Pakjesavond  in the Netherlands. (‘Pakjes’ means packages, but probably a better translation is ‘gifts evening’.) This is the culmination of several weeks of excitement – since his arrival in November – and the night when you eat loads of sweet treats and get presents! Yippee!

Sinterklaas

Sweet treats

Pepernoten  literally ‘pepper nuts’ are small, round-shaped cookie like things made from flour, sugar, anise, cinnamon, and cloves. Not to be confused with kruidnoten literally meaning ‘spice nuts’ which are harder, have a different colour and shape and contain the same ingredients as speculoos.

Other Sinterklaas treats include chocolate letters (chocolate shaped into the first letter of your name), chocolate coins (we get those in England too) and pastry shaped into a letter containing an almond flavour paste (known in the Netherlands as spijs or amandelspijs.)

Traditional Sinterklaas fayre

Traditional Sinterklaas fayre

The period leading up to 5th December…

Traditionally, in the period between Sinterklaas’ arrival and pakjesavond, he rides around roof tops at night, delivering presents on his white horse named Amerigo. (Although most Dutchies call him Schimmel, which is the type of horse.) Young children leave out their shoe for Sinterklaas to put their present(s) in and often a carrot or some hay for his horse. This part gets a bit confusing for me as there doesn’t seem to be an actual date to do this… Sinterklaas can just rock up whenever he feels like it. So you have to have your shoe prepared!

Then, on 5th December, the main presents will arrive “somehow”…

You might get a note saying where they’re hidden, or some people get a friend or neighbour to knock and run (pretending to be a Zwarte Piet) and leave a sack of presents for the kids to find.

How my family celebrates Sinterklaas…

Despite the fact that I’ve been with a Dutch guy for 5 years, this year was my first Sinterklaas!

Since my nephews are all 11+ there was no need to hire neighbours to deliver presents or leave notes… they already know the score, so there was just a pile of presents when we walked in.

We were each given a member of the family to buy a gift for, organised via a Secret Santa like draw. In addition to a real present, we also had to make a ‘surprise’  for that person. The idea of a ‘surprise’  is to package the gift in such a way that it disguises the real gift in a humorous and personalised way. You also have to write a poem, and from what I saw that evening, the main goal is to take the piss out of that person… in a friendly way of course!

I drew my nephew, so that was an easy one! At our wedding in August, my Mum took a real shine to him and after a few glasses of bubbly she was pinching his cheeks and doing the whole overenthusiastic-drunk-Auntie thing. Except that I’m his Auntie! 😉 So I printed out a picture of my Mum, as large as I could, and then framed it and hid the real present (a video game) behind the frame. My husband (aka The Dutchie) wrote a hilarious poem about the whole debacle (as my Dutch isn’t quite good enough to write a whole poem yet!!) and we all had a good laugh about the photo needing to be placed above his bed so that he could see her every day. (Luckily, my Mum has a wicked sense of humour too!)

When it was my turn, I received the following box! But first… I had to read out a whole poem, in Dutch! (Very daunting whilst sat in front of seven Dutchies!!)

IMG_2642

My gift was hidden in a special Bitterballen box, made by my youngest nephew, with my name on one side and a heart on the other with a secret door to get the presents out! Zo lief! (So sweet!) The ‘surprises’ are supposed to be exactly that by the way, but with only eight of us, it was pretty easy to guess who had got each person!

When it was my husband’s turn, he received a large box from our brother-in-law, who produced the most intricate ‘surprise’ of the night: ‘Een oefenbaby!’ (A practice baby!) Complete with fake poo which he had to delve through to search for a clue as to where the real present was hidden! Yuk! (If you’re new to the blog and missed the joke here: I don’t want kids might explain why he was given a fake baby.)

Oefenbaby

I’ll spare you the poo pictures… It was damn funny though!

Oefenbaby2

So, how is Sinterklaas celebrated in your household? Are there any other quirky traditions I’ve missed? 😉

Hayley x

Ps – you can now follow me on Facebook!

[Note: I am aware that there has been much controversy and discussion about ‘Zwarte Pieten’  in recent years, but this is not what my post is about, it’s about the celebration of Sinterklaas. Those wishing to talk about this issue further should join the hundreds of other discussions on the internet about it. Any comments on my blog regarding this topic will be moderated accordingly.]