Intree guide to the Dutch life

Sinterklaas and his peppernuts

Although the holidays of December are still far away, you might already be spotting some pepernoten in the stores at this time of the year. The pepernoten are one of a handful of traditions surrounding Sinterklaas. Sinterklaas is a traditional Dutch holiday, celebrated December 5th, but the festivities already start at Sinterklaas’ arrival in the Netherlands on the first Saturday after November 11th. During the weeks that follow he goes around the country, giving gifts to children with the help of his horse and rainbow Pete’s, moving from roof to roof. This culminates in Sinterklaasavond, December 5th, when most gifts are given out and people often get together with friends and family to celebrate and swap poems or surprises, which are gifts in homemade disguises. Of course, there are songs and candy: pepernoten, but also chocolate letters, marzipan, and gingerbread (named ‘taaitaai’ in Dutch, or ‘tough-tough’ when translated literally). A lot of this might sound familiar and yes, the similarities between Sinterklaas and Santa Claus can’t be denied, but do know, Sinterklaas is the OG.