Sinterklaas 2016

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Living room decorated for Sinterklaas!

My parents were not only here for Thanksgiving, but their first Sinterklaas, as well! It was nice to celebrate a traditional American holiday followed by a Dutch holiday.

A bit of background for anyone new to Sinterklaas. Sinterklaas in the Netherlands is celebrated the 5th of December (and the 6th in Belgium). There are a few differences between the Dutch Sinterklaas and the American Santa Claus. Although the Sint brings gifts to the “braaf” or good children, he is much more strict than Santa. If you are bad, not only do you receive a “roe”, or a cane to be whipped with, but also you will be taken from your parents and home in Sinterklaas’ bag and brought back to Spain, where the Sint lives!

Also, Sinterklaas does not have elves to help him with the days leading up to Christmas, instead he has Zwarte Pieten, black companions that arrive with him on his steamboat from Spain to help distribute treats. Although originally black to represent the Moorish people who once occupied the Netherlands, they are now black because they are covered in soot from the chimneys!

Koen’s family celebrates by drawing names, writing poems, and making surprises for everyone. I love drawing a name and writing poems and creating the “surprise”, or handmade gift that embodies some attribute of the person. It makes it that much more special than just giving a gift because of the time and effort spent.

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My mom and I spent all morning make 60 pieces of gyoza!

 

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Sofie’s pepernoot cake

 

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Dad with his piece of pepernoot cake

 

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So many presents and poems!

 

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Sofie gave her surprise first – to Dook!

 

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A sweet spa – made from jello and kitkats!

 

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And Dook gave his surprise – to Wesley!

 

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A paper mache Wesley who had nose surgery a few weeks before

 

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And Wesley gave his surpise – to Sofie!

 

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A mud run with challenges for Sofie to complete!

 

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Els gave her surprise next – to my dad!

 

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A paper mache tennis racket and tennis ball!

 

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Dad’s present is inside the ball

 

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And dad gave his surprise – to Nikki!

 

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Nikki with her rock climbing apron

 

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Nikki gave her surprise – to Jeroen!

 

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A giant bottle of Gold Strike!

 

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Jeroen gave his surprise – to Barbara!

 

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A Breakfast at Tiffany’s themed set with the matching colors from the new OPI collection

 

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And Barbara gave her surprise – to me!

 

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Reading my poem

 

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A sushi cake! With edible chopsticks and everything!

 

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And I gave my surprise – to Koen!

 

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A coloring book of our trip to Japan!

 

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And Koen gave his surprise – to my mom!

 

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A tea set made from bread! And a special tin of gyokuro tea from Ippodo in Kyoto!

 

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And my mom gave her surprise – to Els!

 

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Opening the egg to find the gifts

 

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Els in the yukata Koen and I brought back for her from Kyoto!

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