It all started back at Halloween...which was pretty magical over here. The expat community does it up, we take over an entire (large) neighborhood. It was really well organized and we rolled out with a big crew...it was special and beautifully american with a dutch twist. Several frenchies from school rolled with us, it was fun to watch french kids experience an american tradition in amsterdam. The holiday was even more special because it aligned with a bday party, so we could have cake and candy and costumes all at once. My friend LL throws ridiculously good parties too...so her son's 4th was a blast.
Not even 2 weeks after halloween, on November 11, it was Sint Maartin, which is a dutch version of something like halloween. It involves homemade lanterns, adorable singing, and lots of candy. Of course we had to participate!
It was a major event on our block, it was incredible. 100s of kids at our door...singing songs and taking candy. My kids shocked me by knowing several Sint Maartin songs (a requirement if you want candy) - they were awesome. If you like adorable dutch children and/or adorable american children singing in dutch - be sure to take a minute to enjoy this video. The catchy tunes are still stuck in my head, a full month later.
After viewing the video above, you must be dying to know how to make a lantern. Luckily, WKF created this easy to follow tutorial - bookmark this for next year...you'll want a lantern on November 11!
Ok fine, one last video. When these darling girls realized we were american, they selected a special song just for us. I never liked miley cyrus until this...
We barely had time to enjoy all of the Sint Maartin loot, and then Sinterklas rode into town (first by boat, then by horse) all in a grand parade that went right by our street. His arrival and 3 week stay has not been without controversy. We have managed to navigate around the controversy, trying hard to see both sides and or just respect the various points of view and enjoy the positive and sweet (yummy pepernoten!) elements of the traditions.
My mom, who is on the ball, gifted us this book which has been helpful.
Even with the book it all gets confusing. Especially when the French School talks to our kids about Saint Nicolas...which makes all of us wonder the differences between Sinterklaas, Saint Nicolas and Santa. According to WKF, you can ask all 3 dudes for what you want, and if you are good you get it all...so, he has been maintaining 3 wishlists and it is kind of making my head spin. Do we leave carrots for horses in our shoes and still leave cookies for reindeer...but what if each eats the others treat? And a lump of coal in the stocking doesn't seem too bad compared to being kidnapped in a burlap sac and taken to a foreign land. It is really hard to keep all the stories straight and to set and deliver on expectations while still maintaining traditions of our own (advent buckets, skiing on xmas day, stockings, etc.)! We have exciting travel plans as well...so the kids are really concerned about if/when/how santa/sinter/saint nicolas will even find us. I share their concern, while never for a moment losing site of the fact that this season really is magical in any language, country, culture! We are savoring and believing in all of it!
Longest post ever and I didn't even get to Thanksgiving yet.