When I was growing up in Holland, in The Hague , we used to celebrate St Nicolas day on the 6th of December.
Traditionally we’d open presents on the 5th December (tomorrow) eek! We’d hang up stockings, but the tradition is to leave out a pair of wooden clogs over night and when you come down stairs in the morning they’re filled with presents.
If you’d been good, you’d get a little present. If you had misbehaved that year you’d get a lump of coal or sometimes I used to get sugar mice. I wasn’t that naughty, I’d get them as a funny gift.
I think it’s really sweet how my son’s birthday is around this time because we always have a celebration in our house. He couldn’t have picked a better time to arrive really.
I might give him a little lump of coal for his birthday. (Just as a little joke). He’s actually really well behaved.
I get kind of nostalgic around this time of year. I wonder about what my life would of been like if we’d stayed in Holland. I do miss it ever so much.
I’ve got my Dutch decorations to put on the tree. I’m obviously half British so I still love English Christmas but I love teaching my kids about different cultures and traditions.
Of course I’ve got my mistletoe decoration that I like to hang above the sofa. What is Christmas without kissing and cosy nights in right?
I’ve even opened some mince pies. I’m feeling so festive today. The Dutch for St Nicholas is Sinterklaas , which is where the name Santa Claus came from.
In Holland I’d probably be eating Christmas bread Kerststol or Stollen. I love that also but I don’t have any today. I’ll have to buy some tomorrow, or maybe I’ll make some.
Also if you like mince pies these mini ones are amazing from Marks and Spenser. I would recommend them.
Some other of my favourite Dutch foods at this time of year are Banketstaaf which is a little sweet puff pastry brushed with apricot jam and filled with an almond paste. They go really well with coffee.
Dutch apple fritters are so good to. They’re kind of a cross between a doughnut and an apple pie. Crispy and brown on the outside with a soft apple centre and dusted in icing sugar. They’re called Appelbeignets.
If you ever get the chance to go to Holland around this time of year you should try some of these.
Something I always drink in winter is mulled wine.
In Holland they call it Bischopswijn (the bishop’s wine). I thought it would be cute to share a little recipe as I make this every year and I haven’t shared a recipe in a while.
The Bishop’s wine: Bischopswijn
- 1 lemon Zest and juice
- 1 medium orange (peeled and sliced; keep the peel)
- 6 cloves
- 3 star annise
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 teaspoon ginger (fresh, cut in 8 to 10 small pieces; or 2 teaspoons ground ginger)
- 1/3 cup honey (or sugar)
- 1/4 cup brandy
- 2 (750-milliliter) bottles red wine
- 2 Figs
Cut orange and lemon into slices.
Combine two good bottles of red wine, I like the Wolf Blass yellow label Shiraz, but any will do. Add to a large pot on the stove on a very low heat.
Add brandy and cinnamon stick and other spices. Stir in the honey. Simmer for twenty minutes.
Strain the spices and serve straight away. Serve with orange and lemon slice.
Alternatively you can make it in advance and store in the fridge with ingredients still in it for an extra infused recipe.
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St. Nicholas’ Day sounds wonderfully traditional. While I love Christmas, it’d be nice to get back to simpler things like you describe in this post.
Thanks for sharing!
I’ve given your blog a follow. Looking forward to reading some posts. You’ve got some interesting topics on there… and yes sometimes you just need some mulled wine and a cozy night. Soph.
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