Tonight I celebrate Christmas, or as I like to call it, Christmas One.
In Holland, the festive season starts in early November, with Sinterklaas and his Zwarte Piet helpers boarding the Steamboat in Spain and setting sail for the Netherlands ready to arrive and bring gifts to all of the children on December 5th.
I wrote a post about the history of Sinterklaas awhile ago and if you want to read it, you can just follow this link.
The entire event is well done throughout Holland with the show starting in a different city each year. The Sint and his helpers arrive in the city on the steamboat – all played by rather well-known actors, TV presenters and singers, etc – this in turn launches the period of ‘shoe settings’ whereby every Saturday night, children leave their shoe by the fire and wake in the morning to find a small gift – chocolate coins or nowadays a larger present is becoming more customary – from the man himself.
This builds to the night of the 5th, when the main presents arrive.
Adults also get in on the fun but playing a sort of Secret Santa game. Names are drawn out of a hat. Each person needs to then build something for the person they drew. Inside this construction the actual present will be hidden. Traditionally a poem would also be written about the person receiving the gift.
We will be doing this tonight, with 11 adults and our 4 children. It is always a really good time, everybody has a laugh and a joke, often at each other’s expense. As is the intended nature of said ‘Surprise'(pronounced Surpreeze)
Normally, this is where the gift giving celebrations end. Christmas comes along and trees are erected … yes I said erected – John, when you are done giggling – and decorations are seen aplenty, but the season is more about the family, and the two days of Christmas are spent relaxed and without a care in the world. There is no big Christmas dinner, no crackers and bad jokes, no football on boxing day. Coming from England, this is a big change to have to adapt to.
This year however, we will be heading back to the UK on December 21st, for a 10 day Christmas break. Hereafter known as Christmas Two!
The kids have never experienced an English Christmas, and while they have already had their presents as we booked the trip last-minute after my parents had come across already, we will ensure that there are a few gifts for them under the tree.
Besides, it is more about the feel and the sight of a UK Christmas that I am excited about sharing with them.
How do you celebrate Christmas?
and yes, I love the Santa Clause (1984) and anything with John Lithgow in it!