The middle of November marks the beginning of Christmas celebrations in Holland. However, Christmas day is generally quieter than the days preceding it, which are marked with extensive celebrations. People in Holland attend the church service on the day and enjoy a lavish meal along with their family. Being a religious day, people prefer to visit church and seek blessings of the Almighty. In the afternoon, they gather around the Christmas tree, sing carols and tell religious stories. Great festivities are seen everywhere in the country, during this festive period. It is the time when people get together with their family members and friends and enjoy the occasion with great enthusiasm. Read on to know more about Christmas traditions in Holland.
Christmas Celebrations In Holland
The long held belief in Holland is that Sinterklaas arrives with his assistant, Zwarte Pieten (Black Pete) by boat, from his home in Spain. He is dressed in Bishop's robe and brings gifts for children. Sinterklaas comes sailing in a boat, with his assistant who wears Spanish clothes. Many people believe that the pair is busy preparing a list of presents for most part of the year. Every child's behavior is registered in a very large book and gifts are decided according to the deeds committed by him/her. People flock Amsterdam docks to meet Sinterklaas. Amsterdam is also a very popular destination for Christmas tourism.
5 December is the Sinterklaas Eve in the Dutch-speaking nation, when the gifts are received by people. During the Christmas period, farmers in Holland blow long horns at sunset, each evening. The farmers gather over water wells, in order to produce a very loud voice. This traditional honking is the formal declaration of the onset of Christmas. Sinterklaas parties are often held on 5th of December. People play treasure hunt games in the party. The clues are given in the form of poems and riddles. Children have to follow the clues to find the gifts left for them by Sinterklaas. Special biscuits and eatables are prepared for this party.
In Holland, Christmas celebrations are also associated with elaborate decorations and lip-smacking delicacies. The people bedeck their homes with glittering Christmas lights, balloons, candles, flowers and artificial or live Christmas tree. Traditional dishes are prepared at home and the Christmas menu is large and lavish. Treats such as biscuits and candies are made, especially for children. One special type of biscuit, called 'letter blanket' or letter cake, is made from marzipan or pastry. 'Pepernoot' is another popular biscuit at parties, made with ingredients such as cinnamon and spices in the pastry biscuit mix.