Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Sinterklaas, kapoentje!

I like traditions. Especially ones that involve chocolate. And Sinterklaas means chocolate. Not literally. For me it's more implied. We celebrate Sinterklaas because Jon served an LDS mission to the Netherlands and because Sinterklaas is awesome. You should celebrate it too.

If you've ever seen Miracle on 34th Street then you may already know a Sinterklaas song. There is a scene where a little Dutch girl greets Santa Claus and they sing together in her language. According to Jon, she sings the song with a thick American accent. But I wouldn't know, the only Dutch I understand translates into 'I love you' and some really bad words. (Thanks Jon) So it always just makes me happy and a little teary-eyed when Santa Claus sings with her.

Sinterklaas kapoentje
Gooi wat in mijn schoentje,
Gooi wat in mijn laarsje,
Dank je Sinterklaasje!

Translated into English it means:

Saint Nick, little rascal
Put something in my little shoe
Put something in my little boot
Thank you Saint Nick!

Sinterklaas has a cohort named Zwarte Piet or Black Pete. Black Pete is from Spain and is black from the soot of the chimneys he climbs down to deliver the goodies. However if you are a bad little boy or girl, Black Pete carries you home with him to Spain. A wonderful threatening way to convince small children to be on their best behavior, but I think I would rather enjoy an unexpected visit to Spain.

We began last night's celebration with a boerenkool stamppot. It is a traditional Dutch winter meal containing potatoes and kale. It's actually quite similar to our St. Patrick's Day tradition of colcannon. Other stamppots can include potatoes and carrots or potatoes and sauerkraut. They're all good. This is the first year we've had real rookworst to go with it though because I discovered a charming little Dutch shop in New Westminster, BC called The Holland Shopping Centre that carries traditional Dutch meats and cheeses (and chocolate). Farewell Hillshire Farms smoked sausage, I really won't miss you.

Here are Eli and Audrey showcasing the stamppot.

I served it with crusty bread, carrots, sauerkraut and brown gravy. I loved Jon's compliment when he came into the house from work, "Mmm, it smells like Holland in here!"

Before the kids went to bed they put their shoes out in front of the fireplace. We had to do things a little differently this year, because our klompen (wooden shoes) are still on the moving truck. And we aren't too clear on whether the shoes should go by the fireplace or by the front door, but either way Sinterklaas still came. Audrey wrote the letter. It read:

Dear Sinterklaas,

Do you know Santa Claus? He does the same thing as you, but Santa Claus comes on the 25th. Hope you have a safe trip!

Love, Audrey, Eli and Nate

P.S. Enjoy our treat!

The letter was longer but I made her erase her list of wants. That girl.

This picture was taken before the placement of the treat for Sinterklaas. The treat was a glass of water and some clementines.

Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet must have concluded that our kiddos were pretty good this year because they left some good stuff, that or they really like water and clementines. Jon and Audrey were most excited about the stroopwafels. You must try one warmed after it's steamed above your hot chocolate. So good. I was happy to see a plentiful supply of peppernoten and speculaas. There were licorice drops shaped like little bicycles and coins, marzipan frogs, Droste chocolate pastilles and Mentos (cuz they're Dutch). Sinterklaas left a little note on Audrey's letter. It said, "Veel Dank! en Eet Smakelijk!" Translation: "Many Thanks and Bon Appetit!"

And of course the kids all received their first initial of their name in chocolate.

Happy Sinterklaas everyone!