Happy Sinterklaas!

Happy Sinterklaas! I hope you had a great visit from Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet!

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Out of the Blue

Being married to a Dutchman has opened up my world to lots of exciting new things. Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet, amazing cheeses, De Toppers, cool bicycles, gorgeous architecture, and hagelslag (chocolate sprinkles that you sprinkle on toast slathered with butter–yes, you read that unusual combination correctly, and yes, it is really good).

So let’s talk about architecture for a moment. Specifically a unique representation of Dutch architecture, KLM Delft Houses. Between 1952 and 1993, KLM (Royal Dutch Airlines), produced 60 miniature blue and white Delftware houses that were given as gifts to business class passengers. These souvenir houses were modeled after Dutch canal homes and filled with Jenever, a juniper-flavored liquor (similar to gin).

KLM Delft Houses (photo courtesy Effervescing Elephant via Flickr)

 In 1994, 15 houses were added to the collection to celebrate KLM’s 75th anniversary. Since then, on October 7th of each year to celebrate KLM’s birthday, a new house is added to the collection. No.91 is the most recent addition, released October 7th, 2010.

 

Needless to say, I’m hooked. Since I decided to start my own collection, I have found people are mad about these cute little houses. According to the Wall Street Journal, even some celebrities are crazy for KLM houses: “Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel García Márquez once requested a full set of houses as partial payment for writing something for KLM’s in-flight magazine, says Ken Wilkie, the magazine’s longtime editor. KLM refused because it only distributes the trinkets aboard its planes on intercontinental flights, and then only in business class.”

Luckily, thanks to eBay and some Dutch friends, I have 21 houses in my collection. However, it looks like people’s infatuation with KLM houses have gone from collecting and trading these miniatures to inspiring a street of real-life KLM houses in Amsterdam.

The Oudezijds Armsteeg was formerly a badly run-down street in the city’s red-light district. However, it has been given a new lease on life thanks to architect Kees Doornenbal’s “Out of the Blue” designs inspired by the iconic KLM houses.The outside walls of each building are painted in a shiny white to make them look like they are porcelain. The window frames and eaves are even painted in royal blue to mimic the blue used in Delftware. 

Definitely a place to visit next time you are wandering around Amsterdam!

Pepernoten and Chocoladeletters

It’s Sinterklaasavond! Enjoy your gifts from Sint and Piet, and all of the pepernoten and chocoladeletters you can eat!

(Photo from www.kennislink.nl)

In honor of the Dutchman in my life: Enjoy this funny clip from the legendary writer David Sedaris for an American’s view on Sinterklaas:

Sint & Piet Banners for Sale

So I would like to start my first post about handmade gifts with something very unique. Even though my husband (referred to as “the Dutchman” in this blog), and I have not been blessed with children yet, we still celebrate Sinterklaas, or “Dutch Santa.” You can read the previous post below for the history of Sinterklaas and his helper, Zwarte Piet.

This year, I wanted to make our celebration of Sinterklaas more memorable. I made a banner, or vaantjes, that will herald Sint and Piet’s arrival to our home.

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I had so much fun making it for my family that I will be happy to make one for yours as well. Whether you are a Nederlander having a difficult time finding Sinterklaas items in America, or if you just want to incorporate a new culture into your family, this banner is perfect for your St. Nicholas’ Eve celebration on December 5th. 

All banners are handmade. Each flag is made of muslin and accented with cotton fabric in bright, cheery colors. Fabric colors and design may vary depending on fabric availability. Red bias tape makes up the cording, and ample cording is used so you have plenty of cording to hang your banner. Also, since the banner is made from fabric, it is reusable!

Each banner says “Sint & Piet,” and depicts Sinterklaas’ staff and bishop’s hat, a gift box, Zwarte Piet’s colorful hat with a feather, and a wooden shoe with carrots for Amerigo

shoe-and-hat

 

Each banner is $40 plus shipping and handling costs. To order one of these handmade banners, just leave me a comment and we can go from there!

 (Shipping Information and Other Details)

E-mail me your address and I will send you the shipping cost to your address. I ship items via the United States Postal Service. Addresses in the continental United States usually receive their items in 2-3 business days. Outside of the continental United States, delivery times vary).

All sales are final. Returns not available.

To order one of these handmade banners, just leave a comment and I will contact you right away!

 

The Story of Sinterklaas (St. Nicholas) & Zwarte Piet (Black Peter)

Even though we are only days away from being visited by children dressed as ghosts, witches and goblins wanting lots of candy, my mind is already on to the next big holiday in my family. No it’s not Thanksgiving…it’s Sinterklaas!

Being married to a Dutchman has opened my eyes to all sorts of things, like eating mayonnaise on french fries, salty licorice, chocolate sprinkles sandwiches, and Sinterklaas. 

So who is this guy any ways? 

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On December 5th in the Netherlands, children are visited by Sinterklaas (St. Nicholas) and Zwarte Piet (Black Peter). According to legend, Sinterklaas is very rich and lives in a castle in Spain. In mid-November, he travels by steamship to the Netherlands with all of his helpers, Zwarte Piets, and the gifts for the children. When arrives, he departs his ship and travels through the country on Amerigo, his white horse, and all of the Zwarte Piets accompany him.

Sint-book-1.2

Sinterklaas wears a long red cape, a white bishop’s dress and a red bishop’s hat. He also holds a long gold-colored staff with a curled top. Sinterklaas carries a big book that tells whether each individual child has been good or naughty in the past year. 

Zwarte Piet, has a black face and hands because he enters the house through the chimney. Sinterklaas and his Zwarte Piets usually carry a bag with candy and gifts for nice children, and willow branches used to spank naughty children.

Sint-book-1

On Sinterklaasavond (St. Nicholas’ Eve), Dutch children and adults alike sing Sinterklaas songs. Tradition holds that children fill their wooden shoes with carrots, straw or sugar cubes for Amerigo, and in return it will be filled with candy, oranges, and pepernoten, a gingerbread-like cookie.  Sometime in the evening, there will be a loud knock on the door or the window, and a sack full of presents from Sinterklaas is found on the doorstep, or next to the chimney. Sinterklaas has arrived!

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And that, my friends, is why it’s cool to be married to a Dutchman.

(Photos by Teresa Meijerink Photography)