Dutch Christmas/ Sinterklaas Avond



Hi Friends!

First things first, I’m on amazon! With an all-American, Woot!


Yep! all that for my book on Amazon!

I want to share our Dutch Custom of celebrating Sinterklass Avond with you.

When we were little in the Netherlands, we celebrated Sinterklaas Avond, or Santa Clause eve, on December 5th like everyone else in Holland. Sinterklaas or St. Nicholas, came on his dashing white horse with his helper Swarte Piet (black Pete) who would bring coal to the naughty children, or if you were very bad, carry you off in his bag thrown over his shoulder. To start off the evening we would have put our wooden shoes and carrots (for the horse) outside and wait for their arrival.

First of course we had heard they were in the country, having arrived from Spain in a ship. Then with great ado, loud voices, and banging on the door and floor Swarte Piet would burst into the living room where we sat singing songs. He would throw Pepernooten (a hard nut like cookie, made from flour, cloves,

_alt._Swarte Piet

Swarte Piet

nutmeg and sugar) and chocolate coins. While we children would scramble over the floor filling our hands and pockets, Sinterklaas would leave each one a present with a poem. Later we learned the poem had been written by our father, and it was usually a clever exchange about your personality or some prank about your brother and sister. They would be humorous or funny.

Treats would be eaten while the poems were read; treats like marzipan and speculaas and a large chocolate letter. The chocolate letter was cut up in bits for all eight of us.

The songs we sang were little ditties about how the wind blew through the branches of the tree and the big yellow moon would shine in the black winter sky. Others were about St Nicholas and Swarte Piet, thanking them for leaving sweet things to eat.

Even after our immigration to America our family kept this Old Dutch custom on Dec. 5th. As we grew up our relatives in Holland would send us a package in time for St. Nicholas with the treats and we’d find ourselves in the kitchen with Mama making peppernooten. In the Netherlands since gifts are exchanged on Dec. 5th, Christmas is reserved for its special religious meaning and is safe from commercialization.

Yesterday at a tea with my book club, a neighbor from Holland Michigan told me of the celebration there about St Nicholas and I googled it, coming up with wonderful sites and wonderful memories.


For years my sister in Texas revived this special occasion sending us treats from a store in Dallas that would specialize in things like Marzipan and Pepernotten. Now she sends me special tea. So I know I’m not forgotten. lol…

I’ve had a problem with this post. I thought all I would have to do is rewrite this from a post I published in 2010 but it showed up as published last year on some blogs as part of their blog roll. Then I kept trying to make a draft and was unable to. Every time I would send it to draft, it would come back as the original, without the updates I wanted. So all this to tell you if it doesn’t work like I hope, you won’t be disappointed.


St. Nicholas looking like Santa Claus



About ClaraBowmanJahn

Journal writer. Author of "Annie's Special Day" And coauthor of Edmund Pickle Chin, A Donkey Rescue Story." Proud mother and grandmother of wonderful kids. Wife of brilliant husband. Servant of two cats. Member of Pennwriters and SCBWI.
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6 Responses to Dutch Christmas/ Sinterklaas Avond

  1. pattyabr says:

    Congrats on being on Amazon!
    Love the Sinterklaas story!


  2. Congratulations on our book on Amazon. I will check it out. I love your story on Sinterklass Avond . Christmas stories may have a bit of difference in each country , making them uniquely beautiful but the magic and essence is still the same. Thanks for sharing a wonderful heritage of blessings and joy.


  3. Jo Bryant says:

    I lived in The Netherlands for a while and I loved Sinterklaas. Great post.


    • clarbojahn says:

      Thanks, Jo.

      Customs and traditions are special to families and young children. It’s important to pass them on. They tell a little about the country you came from. 🙂


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