The longer I live here, the more I am finding Sinterklaas growing on me. It's not something I grew up with but - ethics of blacked-up Zwarte Pieten aside - the whole enormous joyful conspiracy of belief just sweeps you along with it in the end, and I bow to the pressure, sing the songs and bake pepernoten with a will. Although the Sint somehow never brings very much to our children, presumably because he knows Father Christmas'll be around not long afterwards .
Last year Harriet wrote an excellent account of the jollifications, and Marianne Orchard's marvellous description in the 'Dutch Etiquette and Traditions' section fills in any gaps that she might have left. I really don't think I can improve on that, so on the left-hand side you'll see a ' Sinterklaas ' link to a new section with all the information you'll need to get through the next couple of weeks.
He arrived in Leiden on Saturday 20th (maybe you saw his steamboat arrive at the Beestenmarkt, or met him riding his grey horse (schimmel ) Americo through town), and he's here to stay, at least until the 5th. He is At Home to visitors in the Huis van Sinterklaas in the Waag (just along from V&D) from Sunday 21st onwards, from 12 noon to 5pm every day. Really rather fun and worth a visit, although after school it can get very busy.
And because you'll be needing something new to wear on the 5th .
Bring a bag of clothes you no longer love
Swap them for items you'll adore!
|| Friday 3rd December, 8pm
||Pancrat Buurtcentrum, Middelstegracht 85
|What is it?
||A clothes swap for grown ups!
Jill has once again come up with the goods for another great evening of trying-on, wine, conversation and fun. Look at the flyer here or read on:
In order to take part in the swish, we kindly ask you to bring along good quality ladies' clothes. The items can be something that you no longer wear or perhaps that you bought and have never worn - we've all got something like that in our wardrobe. Why do we do it to ourselves, spending money on things that we never wear? But that is the great thing about swishing because it is your chance to say goodbye to those items of which you have tired but you know others will desire, and in return you get to freshen up your wardrobe with new and exciting designs for free ! That is the best bit, it is for free!
Wine and refreshments will be available, of course, and any edible contributions much appreciated! Bring your friends and we'll make another fab evening of it!
If you would like to come along, (or even would like to donate some clothes but not come yourself), and for any additional information, please contact email@example.com.
So now how about brushing up your Dutch in those long winter evenings so you can join in the Sinterklaasliedjes (songs) on the 5th? I recently heard about two language schools in Leiden which are extremely moderately priced and offer a range of levels, duration, intensity etc.. They are Lingua Franca (www.linguafranca.nl) and Thuis in Taal (www.thuisintaal.nl and you can read more about them in the Languages section, left, under 'Weekly courses'.
* This is a well-known old Sinterklaasliedje, which can be heard here on You Tube.
See those smart flags along the top? No, I'm afraid we haven't translated the whole site . but we've done the next best thing. If you would like information in a language other than English, a whole team of experienced international Leidenites has come forward as contact points in their own native languages, ten so far. A big Thank You to all of them! Just click on the relevant flag and you'll find their contact details; they'll be happy to help you out in any way they can. And if you don't see your own native language listed and would like to be the one to add it, please drop Alice a line: firstname.lastname@example.org.