Christmas in Holland is an exciting time with decorations, music and markets cropping up all across the country. By incorporating Holland Christmas traditions into your festivities, whether through baking or crafting with your kids, you can learn more about how Christmas is celebrated around the globe.
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Dutch Christmas Traditions
While in the United States, Christmas and gift-giving are synonymous, Christmas in Holland typically separates the two, so Christmas is reserved to celebrate the birth of Christ. Gift-giving is reserved for Sinterklaas, also known as Saint Nicholas, a kind bishop that arrives on steamboat mid-November, bearing gifts.
Festivities for Sinterklaas begin mid-November, while the holiday itself is celebrated on December 5. The night before, children leave a shoe by the chimney or back door for Sinterklaas to fill with gingerbread, cookies and chocolate.
Christmas festivities begin the day after Sinterklaas celebrations. During this time, Christmas markets and ice-skating rinks appear, as well as festive decorations and Christmas trees.
Make a Sinterklaas Puppet
Creating a simple Sinterklaas puppet is a fun way to introduce children to Sinterklaas. To make the puppet, you will need red, black, orange and yellow construction paper, markers, scissors, tape, a glue stick and cotton balls.
Start by folding the red construction paper in half, length-wise. Then, open the paper up, fold each side in half and tape the sides together. To make his hat, cut about 1 1/2 inches from the top with the scissors, then fold the top corners towards the middle as if making a paper airplane.
Construct Sinterklaas's face by cutting a half-circle from the orange paper and drawing eyes and a nose in the center of the half-circle. Then, holding the red paper seam side down, glue the face just below the folded triangle.
Create Sinterklaas's beard by gluing or taping down the cotton balls around his face. Then, use the yellow construction paper to create a cross and glue it to the triangle to create his bishop hat. Create a belt with the black and remaining yellow construction paper and glue in place. Lastly, to create the arms, take the red paper you previously cut off, snip it to size, add hands with the remaining orange paper and glue the arms in place to complete the puppet.
Decorate a Tree with Kerstkransjes
Kerstkransjes are traditional cookies enjoyed throughout the Christmas season. These cookies are cut into wreath shapes with scalloped edges and a small circle in the center and decorated with almond slices or chocolate. It is a Holland Christmas tradition to tie a ribbon through these cookies and hang them on the Christmas tree.
While everyone's traditions may vary, kerstkransjes cookies are typically hung on the Christmas tree at the start of the season and are secretly picked off and enjoyed by the family throughout the month.
This recipe follows a traditional sugar cookie recipe, adding some lemon zest for flavoring. The dough is rolled out flat, and a cookie cutter or drinking glass are used to cut out each cookie. They then bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the cookies are cooled, loop a ribbon through the hole and tie. Hang the cookies on a Christmas tree and set some leftovers aside to enjoy on their own or replace the ones eaten off the tree.