Sunday, December 7, 2014

Dutch Fall Traditions

While I know that this does not cover everything that happens here in the Netherlands in the fall, I've started to compile a list of things that we've noticed so far - most of which we are thoroughly enjoying. I've no doubt I'll be adding more to the list as we learn about more and more traditions here in the Netherlands.

Sint Maarten
As I mentioned in an earlier blog entry, Sint Maarten is the patron saint of the poor and of children. Similar to Halloween, kids go door to door singing a song about Sint Maarten and receive candy in return.  A fail in our house for this year but there's always next year.

Liam ready to go out for Sint Maarten only to have no kids come to the door to tag along with

Marzipan in general is very popular here.  Unfortunately the only one in our house that likes it is Aidan. And the marzipan doesn't come in just your typical fruit designs but as Sinterklaas, french fries (with a white chocolate side of "mayo"), eggs and bacon, pigs and I could go on and on.  I first noticed it's popularity when I saw these marzipan pigs at the supermarket one day.

Enough marzipan to feed a family or 3, these things are about 18 inches in length!

The reason for the large pigs is that fall is also slaughtering season for a variety of animals including geese and pigs.

Gebakkraam - Cake stalls
These stalls start to pop up in the colder months and sell the Dutch version of doughnuts... essentially fried dough called olliebollen.  Yes, fried dough goodness on many street corners.  It can become a bad addiction.  In addition to the little fried dough balls, they also have filled ones like apple.  Or with currents inside called krentenbollen.

Pepernoten / Kruidnoten
These delicious gingerbread like cookies are normally saved for the time that Sinterklaas arrives but similar to the US holidays, these little bites of yumminess are making their debut earlier and earlier each year.  We've actually been seeing them here since around September and they come just plain or chocolate covered (white, milk or dark).  Hard to resist!

Yes, Sinterklaas makes his appearance not on December 25th but in November!  He actually arrived in Gouda this year (a different city each year marks his appearance from Spain and then each individual town celebrates with it's own Sinterklaas arrival on different dates) on November 15 and he sticks around until his birthday on December 6.  Kids get their gifts on December 5.

If you know of something I've missed, feel free to let me know - we love learning about new traditions!


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