Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Sinterklaas Pakjesavond ~ St. Nicholas Gift Night

Yay!!! It's December 5th and that means tonight is "pakjesavond"(gift night), when we celebrate the feast of Sinterklaas...and eat lots of "pepernoten" (peppernuts, aka gingernuts/cookies).

"Pepernoten, Pepernoten, Pepernoten!" (peppernuts, a Dutch spice cookie)
Copyright 2007. Judith Nijholt-Strong
8" h x 10" w, colored pencils on drafting film.

Pakejesavond is also when we give each other gifts, open our gifts from Sinterklaas, get our chocoladeletters (chocolate letters) and really just have a good time. :o)

Sinterklaas (St. Nicholas) has been in the Netherlands since mid-November. He's been busy riding on his white horse visitng all the cities, towns and villages in Holland. He is assisted in this task by his helper Zwarte Piet (Black Pete (Piet is pronounced in dutch the same as Pete is in english) ). The Sint (Saint) has more than one Zwarte Piet, actually he has many... it's a big task making sure all the presents and chocolate letters get to the right people! In fact, we saw Sinterklaas and two Black Pete's (twee Zwarte Pieten) on our street this past weekend! We waved to them too :-) I wanted to join them, but "dad (papa) " made me come back in the house... well, maybe next year.

"Klompen en wortels" (clogs and carrots)
photo by J. Nijholt-Strong

In front of many houses in the Netherlands, Sinterklaas and the Zwarte Pieten will find carrots & water for the Saint's horse and empty shoes (sometimes wooden clogs ( klompen)) left by the hopeful children in Holland. What they hope for is that they've been good enough all year and their names are down in Sinterklaas's big red book, so that they will get presents and their shoes will be filled with candy or money (usually gold foil-covered, chocolate coins (chocoladegeld) ).

We wrote a long blog post about Sinterklaas and the tradition last December 5th. If you'd like to read more, you can see it here: Sinterklaas might be the original Santa Claus!

Sacha with her own Sint & Piet.

"Mom", "Dad" and I wish everyone een Fijn Sinterklaasfeest! (Fine St. Nicholas Feast!).
Tomorrow, Sinterklaas leaves the Netherlands and won't be back until November 2008. So remember, be good and you too might get a chocolate letter next year! :-)

Off to France again:
"Mom & Dad" are going to France again this coming Saturday - for a small winter vacation. They are hoping to get over to Amiens to visit the Christmas Market there and to see the Amiens cathedral lit up at night in all the colors that it was once painted in (many centuries ago). I hope they have a wonderful time. I'll be home with my human step-brother, trying not to bother him too much... ;o)

I'll show you pics when they return.... uhmm, I mean, "mom" will show you pics.

About the colored pencil drawing of pepernoten:
This drawing was done on Duralar Double Matte Drafting Film (availble only in the US, I think). I have been unable to find something similar here in Holland, but I'm still looking.

I used Faber-Castell Polychromos, Caran d'Ache Pablos and Prismacolor colored pencils on this piece.

The "pepernoten" were drawn from life (well, the ones that were left before I gobbled them all up) . The background, gift wrapping paper, is from my imagination...

This is the first time that I actually enjoyed working on the drafting film. It's definitely a learning curve. I took several wrong turns before I figured it out! LOL ~ Judith Nijholt-Strong

Tot ziens!
Sacha & Judy


Meisie said...

Wonderful drawing Judy! and the pictures are so beautiful. The one with the carrots artwork in itself...tell me...who ate most 'noten' you or Sacha? LOL

have agreat mini break. I'm looking forward to seeing you pics!

J. Nijholt-Strong said...

Hey Charne! LOL I'm afraid I ate most of the 'noten'...and had the traditional stomach-ache too! LOL


rob ijbema said...

i miss sinterklaas here in wales,so thank you for the nostalgic trip
very impressed by your pepernoten
ben jij braaf geweest judy?

Mineke Reinders said...

Sacha, you look so happy with your own Sint & Piet..:)
Judy, I love your pepernoten drawing, great design and they look so yummy... Luckily, Sinterklaas also sent us some pepernoten and chocoladeletters here in Illinois. Hope you are enjoying France!


J. Nijholt-Strong said...

rob wrote: ben jij braaf geweest judy?
Yes, I am always a good girl! ;o)heh heh! Thanks for stopping by,we're glad the post brought back fond memories for you.

And thanks Mineke!
We're glad you got your chocoladeletters!! :o)


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