Monday, December 04, 2006

'Klaas visits Dallas

'Klaas, as Peanut calls Sinterklaas the Dutch variant of Santa Claus and Joulupukki, arrived in Dallas over the weekend to celebrate his birthday which is on December 5th.

All Dutch children know that Sinterklaas (the name is a corruption of Sint Nikolaas) lives in Spain. Exactly why he does remains a mystery, but that is what all the old songs and nursery rhymes say. Whatever the case may be, in Spain he spends most of the year recording the behaviour of all children in a big red book, while his helper Black Peter stocks up on presents for next December 5th.

In the first weeks of November, Sinterklaas gets on his white horse, Peter ("Piet") swings a huge sack full of gifts over his shoulder, and the three of them board a steamship headed for the Netherlands. Around mid-November they arrive in a harbour town - a different one every year - where they are formally greeted by the Mayor and a delegation of citizens. Their parade through town is watched live on television by the whole country and marks the beginning of the "Sinterklaas season".
Here in Dallas, Sinterklaas arrived at the Dutch Barn House where the Holland-America Club of Dallas had gathered to enjoy seasonal cookies, hot chocolate and other treats. As Sinterklaas rounded the room to greet the children, his helpers - the Piets, tossed out candy coins and chocolates to the little ones. Then, everyone gathered around as Sinterklaas opened his big book to read how each child had been behaving over the year. If they were good, Sinterklaas had some gifts for them.

Peanut was excited to see 'Klaas and the Piets until it was her turn to get a bit closer. She quickly tucked her head into mama's shoulder and looked everywhere, but at 'Klaas. Not too bad for a first meeting - at least she went close and didn't cry :-)

'Klaas from the Netherlands had also dropped by our home with some gifts, chocolate letters for mama & papa. Peanut had the hang of tearing open packages so she took care of opening everyone's presents.

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