When I was growing up in Holland, we used to celebrate St Nicolas day on the 6th of December. Traditionally presents were opened on the 5th December (tomorrow) eek! We’d hang up stockings, but the tradition in Holland is to leave out a pair of wooden clogs over night and when you’d come downstairs in the morning they’d be 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 just used to get them as a funny gift, I suppose. To remind me of home.
I think it’s really sweet how my son’s birthday is around this time, because we always have a celebration in our house around this time now, even though I’m not in Holland anymore. I guess it reminds me of home. 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 always wonder about what my life would of been like if I’d stayed in Holland. I do miss it ever so much.
I’ve got my Dutch decorations to put on the tree this year. I got it from my last trip to Amsterdam. I’m obviously 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 a bit early. I’m feeling so festive today, can you tell? Did you know that the Dutch for St Nicholas is Sinterklaas, which is where the name Santa Claus came from? Maybe our traditions are not so different after all.
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 let me now in the comments below if you’d like to know my recipe.
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 too. 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. But something that I always drink during winter is mulled wine. So I thought it would be apt to share my mulled wine recipe. In Holland they call it Bischopswijn (the bishop’s wine). It’s a comforting and warming recipe, perfect for those cosy nights in.
My Mulled Wine Recipe
The Bishop’s wine (Bischopswijn) is a warm and comforting drink. If you want to make a non alcohol version, I recommend using black grape juice and a good alcohol free wine with low sulphates. This will make a sweeter tasting mulled wine but it will still tasted good.
For an amazing range of wines, I’d like to recommend Juiced Wines, they offer modern and contemporary wines for any occasion. I especially like Fleur Godart, Toutes Les Memes 2020 which I recommend in my shop. It’s a fiery Pinot Noir. It works so well in this recipe. However any Pinot Noir will work with this authentic recipe for mulled wine.
- 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 (pinot noir)
- 2 Figs
Cut orange and lemon into slices.
Combine two good bottles of red wine in a large pan, 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.
Thanks for reading,