Sunday, November 15, 2009

Ken's Holiday Blog #1 Sint Nicolaas arrived (YEAH!!! Well, I don't know!)

Sint Nicolaas arrived yesterday. I had heard he was coming and kind of forgot until driving to the cheese shop with Jur. I just started to notice lots of colorful kids out and about and was just about to say something when Jur began to shout "Oh Sint Nicolaas arrived! Sint Nicolaas arrived!"

"From where?" I asked and "When?" but before he was able to calm down and answer it was I who then became hysterical....."Oh MY SWEET JESUS!!!! What the hell? Oh My God!" I began turning my head in all kinds of directions looking at Dutch children everywhere..... "What in the hell are they doing?"


All the children are in black face, well not ALL of them but a bunch! Little kids walking around with dark make-up on and little Spanish Renaissance capes, dresses and all wearing Spanish style berets with a big feather sticking out, running around the city looking for this Sint Nicolaas It was the strangest thing I had ever seen. Everyone was so happy except of course me who was frightened, shocked, concerned, confused.

After I began to calm down from another of Holland's many MANY MAAANNNYYYY unusual customs (I do not think it will ever end), I began to ask questions.

"Okay wait, what the hell is this about?"

Jur explained that Sint Nicolaas comes from Spain every year on this date. He is a Spanish Bishop and he brings his Moorish helpers known as Zwarte Pieten (black helpers). They are "dark" people.

"MmmmHmmmm" I moaned.

"He arrives by boat with a giant book of the year long report of all the children in Holland and then goes down the chimney of every childs house. You know he has been to your house because you leave a shoe (or clog) by the fire place and he will "hopefully" leave you a treat like a chocolate gold coin. Then on December 5th he comes back (he is VERY busy) and leaves the children gifts, but ONLY if you deserve them. But if the report he got is not good it is very frightening because the children are told that Sint Nicolaas' Zwarte Pieten will put them in a sack and take them back to Spain!

"Mmmmhmmmm" I moaned

I had so many questions. What the hell is the problem with Spain? I began to defend Spain. I am so cold here in Holland I could go for some Spain right now and I love tapas and I love Sangria. Send me to Spain. I LOVE SPAIN!

"How the hell does he get here by boat? Is there even a river that flows from Spain to Holland? I don't get it? That's not possible" I was trying to discredit this "holiday" in anyway.

"Uh, no, he sails the ocean. It is much quicker. You know the ocean? The ocean that runs along Spain up here to Holland?" was the response fired back at me.

I lost credibility on that one.

Oh and I happen to be a brown haired person of partial Latino heritage. All of a sudden I became very ethnic and latino in Holland on St. Nicolaas day, I slowly started speaking with this Spanish accent. Which is not easy to do. You try being an English speaking American who speaks bad Dutch with a Spanish accent.

"Por que do they have to be dark skinned, huh, que, wat, why?" (sort of swaying my head back and forth)

I became paranoid that little children were looking at me as if I was going to club them on the head and put them in a sack. I seriously thought about walking around and giving the evil eye to little children wearing "the make up." I would point to myself, then point to my eyes and then point at the kid... I see you.... sign language is international. I see you...... Then if I got their attention I would quickly mimic having a bat in my hand and "pop" right on their head! Scare the little buggers.

No NO NO NO NOOOOOO. Then I would be perpetuating the stereotype. Maybe next year I could go in white face and club all the heads of parents with children in black face. Then give chocolate coins to only the children NOT in black face.

I shared my thoughts and plans with Jur and he said, "Where did hitting children on the head with a baseball bat come from?" I lost credibility on that one too. Okay I realize this WHOLE St. Nicolaas thing is having a BIG BIG affect on me. The Dutch are very accepting people, they are not violent and I think I was getting a bit carried away. This is a holiday with a long tradition. It goes way back. Besides Santa Claus breaks into peoples house too and he has thousands of Elves forced to make gifts for children that he keeps in some cold factory. Are they really happy? And why are they "little" people?

Oh! AND apparently you leave a carrot for the "white" horse of St. Nicolaas. So I asked, "What about his black helpers? Huh, what about them?" Apparently you CAN leave them something but they don't seem to eat so people generally don't leave them anything.

"Mmmmhmmmmm" I moaned as I listened

So in summary, apparently there is a man (A Saint) from Spain running around Holland for the next few weeks, with his "Ethnic" helpers, breaking into peoples homes, to "get to know" the children AND if they have been bad they kidnap the child back to Spain! This is WAY stranger then Caga Tio! The Pooping Uncle that comes at Christmas in Castellan Spain region. Okay I will write about him in a day or so. My next few blogs will be dedicated to all the Holidays. Lots to report about such as St. Nicholas Dec 5th Day, Ken's Introducing the Dutch to Thanksgiving, some Christmas time in Texas (always a surprise) then my first actual Christmas Day in Holland, and New Years......

Bye for now, I gotta go find pumpkins to make Pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. There is no canned Pumpkin here soooooo it looks like Ken is going to have to carve up pumpkins to make real pumpkin puree for pumpkin pies that Dutch people probably won't eat anyway! I will MAKE them eat my damn pie if I have to shove it down their........

Holidays in Holland seem to be making me aggressive.
All will be lovely.

Someone send me Libby's canned pumpkin!


  1. I found some Libby's canned pumpkin at the British/American food store here in Utrecht last year. Unfortunately, I didn't ask the price before buying it. It was something like €6 or more!

  2. White slave-trading racist bastards!! Hehe!

  3. Ahhhhh. Welcome....

    I have been trying to ignore the Piets for 8 years :(

    The first time I was 'introduced' to them was while walking past a Bijenkorf and looked in horror at a series of little piets hanging on bouncy cord in the storefront! All I saw (and continue to see to this day) was blackface...Just cover your ears, close your eyes and sing 'laaaaalaaalaaaaa' when you see them!!!

  4. Better brace yourself for Grampus, then. You might want to have Jur fill you in before you run across that Dutch holiday tradition unprepared...

  5. OMG! My Dutch friend had the nerve to give me a present wrapped in paper with those black-face sambos on it. Imagine my reaction, being the only black man in a room full of freakishly tall white (former slave-trading)Dutchmen.

    Actually, I just got an email from one of my Dutch friends saying he promises not to use the word "nigger" in his emails to me in the future.... I'm SO not kidding.

    The Dutch are open-minded, but a very clueless in other aspects too.

  6. A freind of a friend put this link on fb - hilarious!!!