18 November 2008

Sinterkerst and Zwarte Piet, Addison the Fietser

Well, Addison has graduated to the 'no training wheels' era. He is now Eine geweldig Nederlands Fietser! Heel Goed! I don't have any photos of him riding without the training wheels yet, so
I'll just include a picture of the bakfiets loaded with artwork from the recent exhibition.

Hey 'fixed gear heads!', now this is a 'fixed gear' bike, yo.

Addison is also speaking such good Dutch now. In fact, so is Malia. I am definitely in last place with the learning Dutch thing. I saw my friend Jaromil yesterday, had some afternoon beers on the Gracht and went to an exhibit of his at the Netherlands Media Art Institute.

Meeting up with Jaro was a nice reminder of our time here and just how much we've really settled in over the last 7 months. Jaro was / is my first friend in Amsterdam, and he was a critical ally when we were moving.

Jaro is a real live 'squatter' and he and some other activist types squat a beautiful abandoned house here. Want to learn more about squatting in the Netherlands?

Squatting is just one of many many customs that you have to get used to here. Speaking of which, lately we have been inundated with tons of really wonderful / strange Dutch holiday traditions.

First, St Martin's Day . Sint Maarten is a Dutch / Germany tradition. It is celebrated on November 11th, which is also my mother's birthday.

It is something like the equivilent of Halloween in the States. Kids go from door to door singing songs and carrying a small paper lantern and at each house they get candy for their bags. It was very fun and funny.

Now it is time for Sinterklass, who is like Santa Claus but a bit different. Sinterklass has little helpers called Zwarte Piet, and believe me when I say, this would not fly in the States.

Zwarte Piet is Sinterklass black little 'helper'. This is a hard pill to swallow if you've grown up in a PC mindset (which actually breeds it's own kind of prejudism). Anyway, We've been to several parade's / landings of Sinterklass' boot. Sinterklass always arrives via boat here.

The kids are nuts about Zwarte Piet, mostly because Zwarte Piet always hands out the candy to the kids at the parades.

The Zwarte Pietjes basically seem like clowns, but instead of white face they have black face. It doesn't seem to offend the many different colored people who attend the festivals. I do imagine though that liberal do gooders somewhere are totally irate. Anyway, we even saw a band called the Pietels that just sang Sinterklass songs.

You cannot believe how many freaking folk songs are known by the entire Dutch population...
everyone was singing every word to these holiday gems.

I guess it is similar in the US, I know my mother knows about 50 Christmas songs.

Ok, so pretty soon, Addison will start leaving his shoes out on some nights during this season and Sinterklass comes and fills the shoes with candy and toys. Fun!

We do like our own traditions though too, so we'll have some Thanksgiving with some other Americans we know here, and of course Christmas is on the way.

Anyway, we hope you enjoy all the pictures. Here is a Sinterklass song


Molly said...

Thanks for the lesson....I enjoy them.

Rockolita said...

I too, enjoy the lessons!

My birthday is also November 11th, so now I have even more reasons to celebrate!

Gayle Grace said...

It all looks wonderful and fun, as it should be... thanks for keeping us all up to date. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and now until the first of the year is my favorite time, people are in the best mood of the year - no matter what the troubles. Best thoughts and wishes to you all!!