In the couple of weeks leading up to Christmas, children put one of their shoes by the fire on the Saturday nights before bed, filled with carrots, treats, poems or drawings for ‘Sinterklaas’ and his horse in the hope that they’ll wake up to little gifts in their shoe in return.
A few days before December 5th, people flock to the closest port to welcome Sinterklaas and his ‘Petes’ as he arrives on his boat from Spain! The big man and his Petes then hand out sweets to those who came to greet him. December 5th is essentially the Christmas Day of the Netherlands, when families all eat together and open presents that arrive on the doorstep in a sack of potatoes.
On New Year’s Day, the Dutch like to take part in the New Year Dive where thousands of people from the Netherlands take to the ice cold sea and lakes wearing orange hats.
Christmas crackers are filled with jokes, small toys or silly gifts, as well as a coloured paper hat that everyone wears for dinner. It’s not a British Christmas without watching the Royal’s Christmas Day speech on TV, which is normally scheduled just after lunchtime.
On Boxing Day, some households like to cook Bubble and squeak, a meal that consists of all of the leftovers from the Christmas Dinner the day before. It’s made from brussels sprouts, roast potatoes, parsnips and more, all thrown in the pan and mashed together to eat for an early lunch.