Preparing for and enjoying a coronavirus-proof Sinterklaas
As many know - not sure how you could live in the Netherlands and not know, to be honest - the Dutch celebration of Sinterklaas is just around the corner. Sadly, Sinterklaas 2020 will be celebrated under semi-lockdown due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis, and a number of changes have already been made to several Sinterklaas traditions in order to ensure they are coronavirus-proof.
But, in case you were looking for some tips on how you can celebrate this iconic Dutch tradition, the municipality of Amsterdam has issued some tips for celebrating Sinterklaas in these strange “corona times” - and luckily, none of these tips includes trading sweets for Brussel sprouts!
Preparing for the big day
Anyone hoping for a big Sint get-together this year will be left disappointed, as current coronavirus measures mean you are only allowed a maximum of three home-visitors per day (excluding children aged 12 and under).
But, if you’re still wanting to get gifts for all your friends and family, online retailers advised starting the present shopping earlier than usual this year to ensure that all the deliveries arrived on time.
Tips for a coronavirus-proof Sinterklaas
Can’t wait to get festive, but still worried about ways you can get in the mood without risking your health and that of your loved ones? Here are some handy tips:
1. Decorate your home
Just because you can’t have countless guests filling your home with joy and love, doesn’t mean you and the rest of your household shouldn’t make the most of the process of decorating your home, and enjoy the gezelligheid that can only come from a festive home in the wintertime.
Using candles, fairy lights, streamers - anything that tickles your fancy, really - decorate your home to get into the Sinterklaas spirit. If you’re celebrating with your household, it will really liven up the evening, or if you’re planning a video call so you can share the night with your family or friends, decorations will also provide a fun and appropriate backdrop for your call.
2. Have some fun with pepernoten
It is Sinterklaas, after all. And Sinterklaas wouldn’t be Sinterklaas without pepernoten! Why don’t you think out of the box and have some fun - why not organise an Easter egg-style hunt, but with strooigoed (the sweets and biscuits Sinterklaas hands out). Or, for a festive twist on a classic board game, try out playing checkers but with pepernoten - when you capture a piece, you get to eat it!
3. Look out for one another
The past year has been difficult for a number of people across the Netherlands (and around the world), and as the holidays draw nearer with a number of restrictions still in place, it might be a nice idea to take a moment to look out for your neighbours and the people in your life who could be struggling at the moment. The next time you’re in the supermarket, why not pick up a couple of chocolate letters - one for your elderly neighbour, or for the people who run your local corner shop. The holiday season is, after all, a time for giving.
4. There’s no such thing as too much chocolate
This time of year isn’t just about giving - it’s also about eating delicious food, and plenty of it! Why not treat you and your family to some decadent chocolate in the form of chocolate fondue! You can go all out with marshmallows and pepernoten, or if you’re trying to stay a little bit healthy, opt for strawberries, mandarins, or banana. Equally delicious, and you won’t feel quite as guilty about how much you eat.
5. Play Sint and deliver gifts to friends and family via car
Just because you can’t see everyone all at once and have them in your home doesn’t mean you can’t still wave at them from a safe distance and put a see the smile on their face when you give them their gift. Hop in your car - or on your trusty bicycle (who needs a white horse, eh?) - and travel around delivering your presents to everyone. Of course, make sure you don’t get too close, maybe try dropping the gift(s) on the doorstep and ringing the doorbell before running away - that’s what Sint would do!
Whatever it is you decide to do on December 5, now you know how to do so safely without missing out on any of the fun that is Sinterklaas. Happy pakjesavond everyone!