Maria’s generous theme for this week is “Anything You Wish”, which suits me to a tee, as some cards landing on my doormat this week were reminders of holiday traditions in other countries – from American Thanksgiving, to Dutch “Sinterklaas”.
A llama came trotting from Ginny in the U.S. with a ‘special delivery’ and note of thanks.
And from Jarina in the NL came a couple of cards to do with the Dutch tradition of celebrating the arrival of St Nicholas already in mid November (See Wikipedia article: Sinterklaas), leading up to gift-giving celebrations on 5th/6th December (St Nicholas Eve/Day) rather than on Christmas Eve (the 24th, as in Sweden) or Christmas Day (as in Britain or the U.S.).
Well – I always did have a sneaking suspicion that it must be stressful for Santa/Tomten to make it all happen in just one night, all over the earth... So quite relieved, really (for his sake) to learn that evidently, he’s always been sensible enough to spread the traditions out a bit.
From what I now understand, he comes by steam boat from Spain to the Netherlands. Then he goes around that neighbourhood of Europe on horseback. I’m not sure how he then prefers to travel up to the North Pole to collect his flying reindeer… (Here in southern Sweden, he often comes on foot!) But I guess if he’s managed before, he’ll probably pull it off it this year as well.
Any information you may have on the topic may be given in comments below!
In the Netherlands, they leave hay for Santa’s horse in a shoe by the fireplace.
And here Sinterklaas is checking the famous Book, to see all you said and did over the past year. (Possibly, he now just uses Facebook instead. What do you think?)
I also received the first Christmas card, from a penpal in England who is always early with hers. With all those other red traditional uniforms in London, I guess Santa would blend in rather discreetly if he needed to do some extra shopping on his way up north…
Now for the next couple of weeks I’ll be pretty busy writing my own cards to get them sent off in time… Hm!
I didn't know any of this. Putting hay in a shoe seems so strange! And beside the fire...it could start a fire as well. Sinterklaas has an amazing resemblance to the pope reading his bible! Perhaps he is using the Pope Mobile to get around now. But the steamboat would be less confining. YAY, thanks for posting my card! I do like the red snowy scene from London! They need lots of red there because the weather is always so dreary.ReplyDelete
Well, really not much stranger than hanging your socks in front of the fire! (LOL) Actually, it seems a lot of the British/American St Claus traditions have developed from the Dutch Sinterklaas (St Nicolaus)... Here in Sweden, "tomten" never came down the chimney. He comes knocking on the door, on Christmas Eve.Delete
these are amazing and so are the stories that go with them. I am like Ginny, did not know any of I. I rather put hay out for the horse than hang my socks. it makes more sens he knocks on the door than coming down the chimney..ReplyDelete
I've heard of Sinderklass, but know nothing about him. My Mother-in-law was from Spain and she said they put their shoes out on Epiphany for St. Nick to fill, not at ChristmasReplyDelete
Hi DawnTreader, Your blog is impressive. You do an excellent job of combining images with descriptions. These are all neat cards and brand new images to me. Perfect selection for the season. The traditions, here in the US, teach that Santa will check a list to see who's been naughty and nice and deliver accordingly. And, yes, I do think Santa is now using Facebook ... good observation there. :-) Thanks for sharing all. It is always a pleasure to see your take on things from Sweden. JohnReplyDelete
Sinterklaas is one of the important - or better: most important - tradition(s) in our country.ReplyDelete
The shoe tradition happens on some evenings between Sinterklaas' arrival (indeed in a steam boat from Spain), medio November, and 4 December.
We ourselves didn't put hay in our shoe, due to lack of hay, but a carrot instead for Sinterklaas' horse Amerigo, or a selfmade drawing for Sinterklaas himself. And we sang (and still sing) special Sinterklaas songs. The idea behind putting the shoe next to the fire place is that this man, or his helper Piet (Pete), travels over the roofs (Sinterklaas riding his horse, and Piet by foot) and climbs into the chimney to deliver the parcels.
As a child we didn't have a fire place, so we put our shoes (and sang) next to the central heating system, and as a child we thought it no problem that Sint or Piet would arrive this way to exchange the carrot and/or drawing for a tiny present. Which was proofed by the fact that the next morning we found a parcel in our shoe indeed!
Nowadays - with my own kids, living in a flat without a chimney - we put our shoes next to the front door, which works well, too, but that location is exceptional, I think :-)
And on 5 December there is 'pakjesavond', 'presents evening', on which the parents put (other, main) presents in a sack, which suddenly appears for the children (I am told that in Belgium the presents are handed on 6 December in the morning, but I'm not sure) .
In my family it was/is usance to have each present accompanied by a poem (self made, in name of Sint and Piet, with kind and/or funny words about the receiver). And an other habit is to pack the present in a funny way, for instance in something the receiver likes, made from a large cardboard box or so (we name it 'surprise', pronounced [surprease] - my daughter got a large unicorn, made of boxes, and the present was inside this animal; some years ago I made my son a soccer field, while he made a piano out of cardboard for his grandma - so it is a good opportunity to be creative, if it is in the family traditon - and at school the elder children (from 8 to about 12 to 14 years) make some 'surprise' for a classmate).
The name Sinterklaas is an composition of Sint Nicolaas (Saint = Sint). He has no direct relation to Santa Claus (except for that Santa Claus is said to be developed out of this Sinterklaas tradition). And he has nothing to do with the North Pole or reindeer.
In fact Sint Nicolaas is the bishop from Myra (located in nowadays Turkey), and some legends about him say that he saved a poor man's three daughters from being sold by anonymously throwing coins through the window. Also he has done other good things to protect and care for children.
Out of this 'coin throwing' legend, nowadays the Pieten (Petes) throw special candies and spiced little cookies named 'pepernoten' inside the room, and/or hand these sweets to the children.
There is much more to say about Sinterklaas (see also the wikipedia Dawn Trader mentioned in this blog post), I hope I've unveiled a little more from first (Dutch) hand to all of you :-)
The postcard with the two little girls is my favourite of this lot, but the llama is also very pretty.ReplyDelete
Here in Germany, when I was a child Nikolaus used to come leading (not riding on) a donkey. Therefore, we put some hay out for the donkey to eat, and I remember one Nikolaus-Abend (the 6th of December) being at the window with my Dad and my sister and watching Nikolaus and his donkey walking below on the snow-covered street. I was 3 years old, and my Mum wasn't there - she had travelled with her mother, our Oma, to Beirut where her brother and his family were living back then. The year was 1971.
Very nice postcards Monica! It's always great to have an "Anything you wish" theme once in a month and see more variety of beautiful postcards like you've featured here last weekend. I thoroughly enjoyed your thoughts about these postcards as well, thanks for sharing them!ReplyDelete