Every year we celebrate a very special holiday in the Netherlands. It is called Sinterklaas. Saint Nicolas (not the same person as the one from Christmas though) was born on the 5th of December 270 in Patras, Little-Asia. Around 300 he became bisshop in Myra, Turkey. According to the legend, he saved his village from poverty by giving gifts to the villagers. The story goes that he throws small bags of money through the windows of poor villagers. It continues that he gave gifts and toys to orphanages and children of poor families. Because this story got told in other villages as well, Sinterklaas needed assistance to make sure all children got a present and none was forgotten. He got help from Zwarte Piet (Literally translate: Black Piet). Zwarte Piet got much attention the last decade since his appearance does not match with the feelings of the multicultural country that the Netherlands is. Nonetheless, Sinterklaas remains one of the biggest holidays that the Dutch love to celebrate. And the appearance of Zwarte Piet has been changed a bit the last few years to make him fit the modern society.
Sinterklaas passed away on December 6th 343. The legend of his generosity stayed. Therefore, since the 15th century we are celebrating Sinterklaas. Officially a childrens party, but the older ones love it just as much. Yet another reason to party, eat candy and get presents!
From the past to the present
Every year halfway november Sinterklaas arrives by boat to Amsterdam (and every other bigger city in the country). This year that will next Sunday, the 19th of November. We call it the ‘intocht’, also called the entree of Sinterklaas.
Up from the moment he arrives to Holland, the children may leave a shoe at the fireplace. The children also sing typical Sinterklaas songs, so Sinterklaas could visit them and give them a present.
On the 5th of December we celebrate the birthday of Sinterklaas. That evening we call ‘pakjesavond’, an evening full of presents!
From the present to food
At Sinterklaas we always eat pepernoten, marzipan and other kinds of sweets. Furthermore, we also eat lots of chocolate, normally in the shape of the first letter of your name (chocoladeletter).
Do you also want to try our awesome pepernoten, then check the recipe below!
Not the best chef in town? No worries, from today till the 6th of December you can get the best pepernoten and other Sinterklaas treats at the easyHotel Amsterdam City Centre South reception.
- 250g self-rising flour
- Pinch of salt
- 80g dark brown sugar
- 45g light brown sugar
- 1 tbsp speculaas spices – these are usually only available in the Netherlands but you can make your own by mixing 1 tsp cloves, 1 tsp nutmeg, 1 tsp mace, 3 tsps cinnamon and a pinch of pepper.
- Tsp nutmeg
- 100g soft butter
- 3–4 tbsps milk
- Preheat oven to 150°C and line a cookie sheet with baking paper.
- Sift flour, add sugar spices and salt. Stir well. Add butter, in small pieces, and the milk. Knead well until the dough comes together.
- Make small balls the size of marbles and arrange them on a baking sheet with a little room between them. Flatten them a little and bake for about 20 minutes.
- The pepernoten keep well in an airtight container for about a week.