Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Countdown to Christmas 2021 Midweek 6

Around the World for Christmas – Coals and Switches


On the 6th day of December, Sinterklaas leaves his home in Spain and sets sail for a random Dutch harbor. Every year, there is a different harbor that hosts the Sinterklaas and his sidekick Zwarte Piet. If they land in the Amsterdam harbor, they will say “hey” to the queen. When he hits the shores, all the church bells ring, and he trades a boat for a large white horse from which he leads a parade. Children will put out carrots and hay for Sinterklaas’ horse. Preparations for the arrival of Sinterklaas starts in the last few days of November.

Our Santa Claus is a derivative of Sinterklass, who is a red robed jolly character. He is clothed in his bishop’s robes. The 6th is St. Nicholas Day, which is where we get the interchangeable St. Nick and Santa.

The children of Holland put their clogs and shoes out on the 5th where they hope they receive toys, fruits, nuts and other goodies. Zwarte Piet is in charge of punishing bad children with coals in their shoes and a swat on the backside with a switch. He has been known to chase children with a stick. Black Pete as he is known in English is given the task of being a helper to Sinterklaas who is charged with entertaining the children when Sinterklaas arrives. However, his roles have changed over the years. Originally, he was charged with punishing the bad children. Today, he is a helper who also delivers sweets. My DH spent a few childhood years in Holland; Zwarte Piet did not deliver sweets in the 1950s. He was still beating children in the 50s.

Sintkerklaas in a traditional bishop robe..

On Sinterklaas Eve, there are parties that are filled with treasure hunts. The children, and a few adults, follow riddles and clues to find their presents. The gifts are hidden and disguised as much as possible. Like a small book in a large box, or a gift hidden inside of a vegetable or pudding. These games are accompanied by biscuits, cookies and other treats. This celebration is a wonderful time for all. On St. Nicholas Day, people exchange Secret Santa gifts. The people draw names and they are charged with presenting a gift that will aid the recipient with their hobbies. The gifts are secret, but the giver can include a poem that may offer up a clue about the giver, but the purpose of the gift giving is to keep it all fun and secret. It is supposed to be for the children, but it can spill over into adult fun.

There is a second Santa that shows up on Christmas Eve for some children, but this is not their traditional fat man, he is more western.

Christmas Day is filled with church services and family meals. The gift giving is done, now is the time to worship. The Christmas story is told in the afternoon of Christmas Day, and there may be some remaining gifts for children.

The Dutch decorate their homes with Christmas trees and other decorations. Their bosses will give them a hamper with food and a personal gift that has the company logo on it. It can be a serving platter, a book or anything else of value.

The typical Christmas meal will consist of shrimp, salmon, eel, stewed meat or poultry and seasonal veggies. They serve wild boar, duck, turkey or venison. The desserts are spectacular and can be adorned with fireworks that really make the dessert explosive. They like fried ice cream. If there is no time for one person to create the meal, it has become increasingly popular to set up a buffet or to go to a restaurant.

Mid-winter Horn Blowing

The farmers begin blowing their horns starting on the fourth Sunday before Christmas. This continues until Christmas Eve. Every morning at dawn, the farmers use horns fashioned from the wood of an elder tree and blow over a well. This sound is to signal the coming of the Christ child. Apparently, it takes a lot of skill and practice to actually get the horn to sound.

Enjoy a little horn blowing

A popular bread served on Christmas is Kerstbrood or Christmas bread. Another bread, Christmas stollen, is served as well. This bread is filled with raisins and currents. There are plenty of almond pastry rings, chocolate pastry rings and marzipan. Lots of pudding and hot chocolate is on the dessert menu.



Dutch almond butter cake Boterkoek

Dutch cookies

These are not secret gifts, but with a little imagination on your part, maybe you could get any one of these gifts hidden in pudding.

Christmas Peppermint Candy Earrings, Lampwork Crystals Holiday Jewelry

Christmas Crystal Bracelet Siam Clear Crystals

Red Bracelet with Swarovski Crystals, Christmas Beaded Jewelry

Victorian Style Treasures 

Womens Kippah 

Sterling Silver Trombone Necklace

Oliver The Otter's Christmas Throw Blanket

Red Jasper Thunderbird Necklace Natural Stone Dove Jewelry

3 Caladium Variety 5 x 7 Note card Blank Greeting Card


Siam Red Swarovski Crystal Earrings for Women, Dainty

Looking for something different?
Here are more links to additional beautiful, handmade gifts.

Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5

Week 6



Finish up your butter cake (yum) and let’s head out to our next destination!

Julie and Harry




  1. Another extremely interesting post, Julie and Harry. Weird how many cultures have a Zwarte Piete type person. You'd think getting lumps of coal would be bad enough, but a switching on top of that! Moose and I don't see an item of ours but do enjoy the reds that are posted. Will share all items and the blog far and wide. Moose sends virtual belly rubs and non-virtual treats to his Harry Pal in Florida.

  2. I don't know how that happened! It must have been waiting for those yummy peppermint drop earrings. Harry says his mom is a goof. Many treats to Le Moose.

    1. Thanks, Julie and Harry! Those things happen. Am sure you aren't a goof - although I'm sure our four-footed friends do think otherwise!

  3. Thank you Julie for another intriguing Christmas Tradition! Loved reading about all the traditions and food those in Holland celebrate!
    Thank you for including my Swarovski Crystal Bracelet among your Countdown Gifts!

  4. Enjoyed reading about Christmas in Holland. I sure am glad I didn't live there in the 50's. Those poor kids! I liked reading about the other traditions. Thank you for showing my trombone necklace. It's been a while since I sold one of those. Sharing each item and the blog.

  5. Thanks Julie for another midweek blog. I did enjoy reading about Holland's Christmas tradition. Oh but I feel sorry for those kids. Thank you for including my red bracelet among these wonderful gift ideas.

    Off to pin and share.

  6. Sorry I am so late had an emergency this week
    Thank you so much for this wonderful promo

  7. Better late than never. Pinned to 2021 Holiday Shopping. THanks for including me. A treasure hunt ... looks fun.

  8. Another fantastic, informative blog with beautiful handmade gift items too! Interesting about your DH in Holland! Egads! Sir Gonze is sending treat wishes to Prince Harry Pup and all the furpals here. :) Will tweet the blog!