Christmas and Father Christmas

25 Replies

Hi, what is the difference between Sinterklaws that they have here in The Netherlands and Father Christmas? Is it the same as the Uk and will we be able to take the kids to visit him, tell him what they want for Christmas and give him their Christmas lists?Spi


delajt-372092 1225143087


Different set of rules here. Sinterklaas is all-knowing and is supposed to know what you want from him.

You cannot bring the list anywhere, but you can send it in the post (just address it to Sinterklaas, Spanje (Spain)), which then directs the lists to a non-profit organization. They will even send out replies per mail (trust me, our oldest son sent his "speentje" (dummy?) to him, and he got a letter back saying how proud Sinterklaas was)

No socks/stockings, but shoes with carrots in them.
Pepernoten and chocolate letters instead of sweet candy (but that seems to be changing over the last decades) and/or selection boxes (do THOSE still exist I wonder? I loved those back in the late 70's!)(which makes me think... I need to ask a forum question!)

Zwarte Pieten instead of elfs.

More info here:

Oh, and Santa Claus? He is a copy of Sinterklaas!
(Sinterklaws as you name him sounds like a character of the X-Men movies)

disclaimer: I am not an expat or English.

Jelly Bean-373188 1225144732

I am confussed about the chocolate letters, do you give one every night, or just on Sinterklass evening? I have to be quick because my son's name is Josh and the J's always run out first, it must be because of all the Jan's in The Netherlands!

delajt-372092 1225146412

Nah, it is because I buy them all up ;-)

Seriously though, you are right, the J is one of the most sold letters, and no, you don't give them every night (only once before 5 december (if you think they can handle it) and ofcourse again on that day as well).

Pepernoten, taai-taai, candy-mix, chocolate coins (where did the chocolate cigarettes go? ;-D), chocolate frogs with minty filling (never understood that one) or chocolate Sinterklaas are the daily treats, small handful in the shoe is more than enough

disclaimer: I am not an expat or English.

Ginger-371290 1225146537

So when do we put the carrots in the shoes, they're won't be any space for them with all that chocolate in them.


delajt-372092 1225147450

No no, the carrot is supposed to be for Amerigo, Sinterklaas' horse! The kids put it in there, sing the songs, go to bed, you take out the carrots and replace it with the candy/gifts.

disclaimer: I am not an expat or English.

Little Weed-372856 1225193069

So do we put a carrot out for Amergio the horse every night or just on the night before Sinterklaus? It's very complicated, we put out mince pie and sherry for Father Christmas and a carrot for Rudolph on Christmas Eve.

Rach-372838 1225215617

my husband says that between sinterklaas arriving (15th nov) and the actual date (5th Dec) you put out the shoe with carrot in maybe 5 or 6 times (or more if you want). Then on the actual day you have more poems/presents/treats etc.

delajt-372092 1225231673

Nah, put the shoes out every night (with carrots inserted) and take them out and replace with pepernoten and other small sweets/candy. Once every few days also put in a small present (small as in &lt1; EUR5 not as in Nintendo DS small). Big presents on the 5th only.

disclaimer: I am not an expat or English.

Rach-372838 1225232390

if I put in sweets every night for 2 weeks and then they have a chocolate in their advent calendar for the whole of December they will be

a) fat

b) have bad teeth

c) hyperactive

maybe small toys instead. We have decided to give mainly small presents at sinterklaas as we want to also do the whole Christmas presents from father Christmas on the 25th and will give the big present then.

I have to say that as we have only been here since earlier this year it is the first time we have had to buy presents here. Luckily I had already bought a lot in the January sale before we came as experience from what out kids had received from oma and opa in the past made me think expensive toys/not good qaulity. Has anyone else found that. In the UK you can buy woolwiorths own/asda own/tesco own etc. that are pretty good quality and not bad price, here it is not the case. The plastic toys seem cheap (actually not) and market stall quality. I just bought a load more in the UK last week.

Spider-373911 1225299414

So still a bit confused, will the Dutch children only get one present at SinterKlass evening then? Will they get a present at Christmas as well?


Rach-372838 1225303898

I think you can pretty much do whatever you like. My husband said that when he was a child they got sweets and small presents in their shoe in the days leading up to the 5th and on the 5th he got numerous presents, not just 1. They didn't do anything with presents on the 25th though.

One importnat thing though is that Zwarte pete brings the presents in a sack and leave sthem on the door step, so you need to ask a neighbour to knock hard on your door, and when the kids open it there are their presents.

Little Weed-372856 1225309669

Ok it seems to be a bit clearer now, we just go with the flow I guess, I think we shall celebrate Sinterklaus in a small way but Christmas is our main celebration, in fact Christmas Eve in our culture is when our presents arrive, this year Father Christmas will have to deliver them to the snowy mountains so obviously not Holland!!

Rach-372838 1225311078

if it was holland it would be the rainy roads/fields/canals, rainy everything!! enjoy Christmas

Penny-371589 1226312173

Just a reminder that Sint arrives this weekend. So from Saturday onwards you need to be putting your shoes out. He arrives in the harbour (Amsterdam and The Hague being the main one) with the Zwarte Piets. All the children go and welcome him and get dressed up in Zwarte Piet outfits, it will be busy up in The Harbour of Schveningen this weekend.

Luciededelft-373544 1226314408

Hi here is a text that a volunteer wrote on our newsletter about Sintaklaas last year. After asking around Dutch friends the conclusion was alternating very small gifts and candies till the day that the bag full of gifts comes. Usually 1 big gift and the rest of your choice but several are expected but nothing special for Xmas. I have some cool articles that we wrote last year about the typical sweet things that the Dutch eat in december and nice suggestions of toys per age group for young hildren according to their devt stage from a toy store owner who used to be a primary school teacher. If you are interested I can send it to you as a Pdf. I will try to post it on the Delft MaMa website again under membership newsletters than winter 2007

take care



The legend has it that Sinterklaas once existed, and that he was a saint that came from Turkey. The popular story nowadays is that he resides in Spain. Every year, he comes to the Netherlands on his boat loaded with presents, to celebrate his birthday on the 6th of December with the Dutch children. He is accompanied by uncountable helpers called “Zwarte Pieten”, who in fact are students dressed up of course. They wear typical Zwarte Piet clothing and make up, which looks like a cross between a clown and a Moorish slave. Their faces are thick with shoe polish and golden earring hoops dangle from their ears. They carry Sint’s sack and strew biscuit bread and sweets on the streets for children to pick up.

When the Sint arrives in your town, he comes by boat. An old fashioned steamboat is set to arrive on a certain date in November on the big ‘gracht’. Everybody who has small children goes to watch. A lot of children are dressed up as a Sint or a Piet. In Delft the “Jetski Piets” roar up and down the gracht around the boat, which is covered in streamers and flags. There is a terrific noise due to the brass band on board an accompanying boat..

The Sint gets off his boat and his Dapple grey horse “Americo” is brought to him. He greets the children – as many as possible personally, by shaking their hands. Then he begins his procession around the town accompanied by all the Zwarte Pieten, and all the children too. The Zwarte Pieten hand out pictures to be coloured in for a competition, or just throw sweets and ‘Pepernoten’ around. (This is a kind of biscuit made with cloves and spice.) The procession usually ends on the large market square, where a choir sings for him, and the noise of laughter and celebration fills the air.

As of that day, children start polishing their shoes, putting out a piece of carrot for the horse, a lump of sugar, and a poem or letter for Sinterklaas. On any given day until 5 December children expect small presents in their shoe.

The Surprises

Older children who are aware that Sinterklaas is not really alive and so very generous, cherish the celebration nonetheless, but in a different way. Instead, this is done with what is known as a “Surprise” (Dutch pronounciation: soo-er-preez-a).

Enormous trouble is taken in many family households to secretly fashion some form of handmade gadget out of cheap and readily available material (like cardboard), of great personal value for the receiver. The “present” is meant as a bit of a joke, and is accompanied by a poem written for the occasion. The content often has to do with that person’s character, or something they do, or a funny event to be highlighted in a tongue-in-cheek kind of way.

Then on the eve of the 6th of December these presents are exchanged, with great mirth.

It is also custom to eat ‘speculaas’ and ‘speculaas brokken’ together with hot chocolate on this evening.

This is closely followed by Christmas, at which time in Holland, people don’t give each other presents, they just have a nice meal together.

Spider-373911 1226316213

Lovely, but now you have confused me, I was under the impression that we gave the presents on the 5th of December not the 6th, that's what the Dutch teacher seemed to convey to us., but she was expalaining it all in Dutch. She said that the shops shut early and everyone goes home early to do the present giving.


Rach-372838 1226353791

It is the 5th December, the kids will either be off school or finish early, I guess he celebrated his birthday on the eve of his birthday in case he got drunk and had a hangover on the 6th???

Luciededelft-373544 1226578661

Hi Spider, when Amber wrote that gifts are exchanged on the eve of his birthday she did mean on Dec 5.

Indeed Rachel, imagine galloping on pavements with a hangover and all that singing from the kids, that would have to give him a major headache!!!

A lof of stores have Sinta Klaas coloring plates, or you can leave one shoe with your name and collect it on Dec 6 for a treat from sinta Klaas; What was impressive to me in the parade that I saw was the machine spitting out peppernoten and kruidnoten to fill zwarte pieten bags to hand out to the kids. Zwarte pietjes are pretty cheeky, I saw one steal a baby's soothie or adults' eyeglasses and then return to the dismayed owners.

for our special issue on sinta klaas last year we received practical tips from Delft moms who have been in the NL for many years and are married to Dutch men

a set of toys given gradually every night when your child’s shoe is out (tea or cube set,

animal figurines, small cars)

• for little ones practical items with fun designs on it: toothbrush, socks, sock and mitten clips from , cool name tags from, an extra set of gloves. When they are stil under the age of 4 they just delight in something new and fun to unwrap, after that they just know what toys they prefer and it gets harder for parents

Bruna has lots of affordable little gift ideas for kids 3 and up

Christmas Panettone (Italian Christmas cakes) from Casa Roberto (Choorstraat 45)

Sinterklaas giant chocolate letters from De Lelie Chocolaterie (Voorstraat 10 in Delft) Has to be ordered in advance to guarantee your letter is still in stock. Comes in several flavors and fillings. Really good quality chocolate

Feestdagen Liedjes - book and CD Dutch holiday songs performed by children’s choir. It comes with written lyrics to sing along. Quite nice if your child is going to Dutch school or peuterspeezaal and you want to follow some

in the same spirit a CD with book called Liedjes op Schoot" for songs taught at daycare and school performed by Delft children's and babies' music teacher Felice van der Sande, with lyrics and nice illustrations



Spider-373911 1226579820

Hi Lucie

Nice ideas here but not sure if we'll do the Sint and the Father Christmas thing, it seems a bit pricey celebrating both. Does anyone know what the Marzipan caked covered in pastry is meant to represent? They had it to tast at my local bakers, not to my taste, the Dutch people seem to be obsessed with marzipan, it's everywhere!


Rach-372838 1226580432

Don't know what it represents but did you have that pastry thing hot or cold?? lovely warm ed from the oven, disgucting cold (in my opinion). I know what you mean about celebrating both being pricey, and I guess if your kids go to International school then a bit different but I am guessing that at my sons Dutch school each morning they probable ask what he brought. Having said that we are only putting things in the shoe every other night or every 3rd night and when we were in England I stocked up on little £1 and £2 stocking fillers.

Spider-373911 1226580686

Well I ate mine cold and it was sweet and disgusting, I'm used to mince pies and brandy butter at this time of year ( well maybe still a bit early) International Schools seem to celebrate Sinterklass and Father Christmas, my kids are really confussed so I said that Sinterklass is a relative of FC who comes early to the kids in Holland as he is very busy later on in the month, that seemed to satisfy their curious little minds.


Luciededelft-373544 1226583050

hello I should have mentioned that those gift ideas were mostly for pakjes avond when several gifts are delivered with a bang on the door (thank you neighbors!) in a large sinta klaas bag.

Sets of stickers, marbles, pots of playdough, fun pen sharpeners are all acceptable shoe fillers; At home with alternate days with kruiden noten and one piece of candy or chocolate coin and little gifts.

We end up celebrating Xmas just with a tree (the French Pere Noel sometimes does leave a present at his grandparents that gets shipped here) but because my son's birthday is a week after sinta Klaas it is too pricey to celebrate all of that, I agree.


Spider-373911 1227438419

Hi, I was wondering if anyone had gone to Effteling at Christmas? Someone was sayin it's the Dutch version of Disney with a hotel and kids event's.


Paksoi-373315 1227538314

HI, for any intrested the BSN have their Christmas Fair in December at their Senior School, there you get to meet Santa

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