Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Sinterklaas (for the English speakers)

Congratulations, my Dutch friends [note: "Congratulations" is the standard birthday greeting in the Netherlands, offered both to the "Birthday Boy/Girl" and -- oddly enough -- to the other members of the immediate family]! Sinterklaas -- your good saint, your dear saint -- is celebrating his birthday today. Yesterday, Elliot celebrated the occasion with his school (see the picture from the last post) -- but today is the real day!

We really have no comparison in American culture -- kind of perhaps, a little bit, with Santa Claus and Christmas... but not nearly so exciting, so hysterical, so real! It's obvious that the children (and also the parents, the teachers, and the people playing the roles of the Zwarte Pieten and Sinterklaas himself) enjoy the day of Sinterklaas such as none other in the Netherlands. Sinterklaas is not merely some strange disconnected symbol in this culture. Sinterklaas is a friend -- no, actually, a family member!

Therefore, I offer my congratulations to all of you for the birthday of your beloved Sinterklaas. Have fun, and have a great day...


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