Christmas is coming!

From zure haring en broodje kroket to frieten en pralines. From fietsen and Koninginnedag to schaatsen and de Gentse Feesten. Here, you can ask questions about anything related to the Dutch or Flemish culture or share your experience with others.
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Christmas is coming!

Post by daisyD » Fri Dec 03, 2010 3:44 pm

Hey everyone! :)
I wasn't sure where I should put this topic, but still I hope there will be a lot of posts with the information!
Christmas are really coming! So I want to know:
1. About Christmas traditions in the Netherlands. It seems so interesting for me! What are the traditions from Christmas morning till evening? What are the preparation for Christmas?
2. Also I would like to learn a stave for Christmas! Or a little poem. It would be nice that you reply and write that poem/stave not only in Dutch but also in English.
3. Also I would like to find out expressions and greetings conected to Christmas!

Thank you for everything!
(I'm also searching for good online dutch-english, englisg-dutch dictionary, so if you have something to suggest, please do that!)

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Re: Christmas are coming!

Post by firefly315 » Sat Dec 04, 2010 5:55 am

daisyD wrote:Hey everyone! :)
I wasn't sure where I should put this topic, but still I hope there will be a lot of posts with the information!
Christmas are really coming! So I want to know:
1. About Christmas traditions in the Netherlands. It seems so interesting for me! What are the traditions from Christmas morning till evening? What are the preparation for Christmas?
2. Also I would like to learn a stave for Christmas! Or a little poem. It would be nice that you reply and write that poem/stave not only in Dutch but also in English.
3. Also I would like to find out expressions and greetings conected to Christmas!

Thank you for everything!
(I'm also searching for good online dutch-english, englisg-dutch dictionary, so if you have something to suggest, please do that!)
Hoi daisyD,

Welkom op het forum!
Welcome to the forum!

1. If you scroll all the way down to the bottom of the index (main) page, you will see “Studying, NT2, and Inburgering. When you click on the link to that heading, you will see the subforum Dutch and Flemish culture. There are a few topics about Christmas there.
I also pasted the titles of some of the topics in that subforum, which will tell you what a Dutch Christmas is like.
topic 1: Merry Christmas!

topic 2: Why does Sinterklaas come from Spain??

topic 3: Sinterklaas en Sint Maarten Liedjes Gevonden

2. This is a really famous Dutch Sinterklaas lied (song)
Sinterklaas kapoentje,
Gooi wat in mijn schoentje,
Gooi wat in mijn laarsje,
Dank je Sinterklaasje!

Santa Claus ladybird,
Throw something (some stuff) in my shoe,
Throw something (some stuff) in my boot,
Thank you Santa Claus!

3. vrolijk Kerstfeest = Merry Christmas
I’ve also that heard:
Leuke Keerstfeest = Merry Christmas

I'm not sure where you can find a good dutch-english, englisg-dutch dictionary online, but I used bruna.nl to order one --- that site is in Dutch, so use babelfish (http://babelfish.yahoo.com/) to translate what you need to understand from that website --- but don't use Babelfish to translate everything that's ever in Dutch, just use it when you can't find something in your dictionary --- once you have one.
I had to use babelfish to order my Dutch dictionary more than five years ago, when I started to learn Dutch. That took awhile, but I was so happy that I did it!
Bol.com may be cheaper, but it’s also in Dutch.

On bruna.nl, I bought Kramers Vertaalwoordenboek Nederlands-Engels.
Then, you can buy Kramers Vertaalwoordenboek Engels-Nederlands to get the other half.

I have heard that it is even better to buy a Van Dale, which I have gathered, is what most Dutch people use.

However I think the one I bought is great when you're a beginner and into your intermediate study of Dutch.

Also, on Amazon for between 6 and 10 US Dollars each, I also bought two books: First, 201 Dutch Verbs by Henry R. Stern is so great to get good at conjugating Dutch verbs, and there is a section in the back which just lists a lot of verbs. The first 201 is conjugated in all of the tenses.

The second is also by Henry R. Stern. It’s a grammar grammar book, which is great, too. It’s called: Essential Dutch Grammar.

Groetjes,

Cathleen

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Re: Christmas are coming!

Post by Quetzal » Sat Dec 04, 2010 12:52 pm

Cathleen's post was very helpful, I think, but I do want to stress that for Dutch (and Flemish) people, Sinterklaas and Christmas are two entirely different things. Yes, it's true that Santa Claus is inspired by Sinterklaas, but for us they're two separate things - "Santa Claus" is usually called "de kerstman" in Dutch, and considered to be kind of a rival to Sinterklaas. Sinterklaas is believed to visit children and leave them candy and presents on the night between December 5th and December 6th, while Christmas is of course on the same date as everywhere else.

So for Christmas, I think our traditions are similar to those in other countries, with the tree and all, but the present-giving, for children at least, is more limited than in the US or UK, as the children have already had Sinterklaas less than a month before.

And Cathleen, I'm not sure where you came up with "ladybird" as a translation for "kapoentje"? Unless there is some meaning of "ladybird" that I'm totally not aware of, the two have nothing to do with each other... "kapoen" has two meanings, one referring to some kind of fowl (I'm not entirely sure which kind; that meaning is antiquated anyhow). The other is used for young children who are a bit naughty, but in a loving kind of way - this is the meaning used in the song, though obviously Sinterklaas is not a child.

And finally, it should be "Leuk kerstfeest". ;) It's because it's short for "Ik wens je een leuk kerstfeest", where you can see that "kerstfeest" has an undefined article.

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Re: Christmas are coming!

Post by daisyD » Sat Dec 04, 2010 8:19 pm

Quetzal wrote:Cathleen's post was very helpful, I think, but I do want to stress that for Dutch (and Flemish) people, Sinterklaas and Christmas are two entirely different things. Yes, it's true that Santa Claus is inspired by Sinterklaas, but for us they're two separate things - "Santa Claus" is usually called "de kerstman" in Dutch, and considered to be kind of a rival to Sinterklaas. Sinterklaas is believed to visit children and leave them candy and presents on the night between December 5th and December 6th, while Christmas is of course on the same date as everywhere else.

So for Christmas, I think our traditions are similar to those in other countries, with the tree and all, but the present-giving, for children at least, is more limited than in the US or UK, as the children have already had Sinterklaas less than a month before.
Hey Quetzal! :)
I know that Sinterklaas and Christmas are two different things for Dutch people. I would like to find out more than I know about both of them. I'm from Latvia, so we celebrate Christmas, by the way.
So maybe you can tell me some expressions connected to Christamas and Sinterklaas in Dutch?! I would be really grateful! :)

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Re: Christmas are coming!

Post by firefly315 » Sun Dec 05, 2010 4:37 am

Hoi Quetzal,

Thanks for your explanation. I thought I heard somewhere that Sinterklaas was different from de Kerstman, and that you guys were told about two different guys. So, does de Kerstman look like our Santa, and does he supposedly live in the North Pole? I just realized that it's already December 5 for you guys --- it's still December 4 for us --- so Leuk Sinterklaas Avond --- or do you say something else?

Of course, the Sinterklaas liedje that I just put in my last post is used in the 1947 original black and white version of Miracle on 34th Street and the Dutch girl who they said was supposed to be from Rotterdam went to see Santa at the department store, Macy’s, I guess she had to pretend that the Santa Claus in the store was Sinterklaas. It was just on on Thanksgiving after the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade --- which is when it is always on. Thanksgiving, which is always on a Thursday (You guys probably know that, but I just thought I would mention it,) was on November 25 this year.

Thanks for the definitions of kapoentje. I tried to find kapoentje in both of my dictionaries, but I couldn’t, so I used Babelfish --- which is generally good to use if you really can’t find a word if you really need it at some point. Babelfish translated kapoentje as ladybird. I used it because I thought that it went along with the concept of “a little birdie told me” (in this case what you wanted to get for presents.) When you’re kids, do you guys write to Sinterklaas? I thought that since Dutch and Flemish kids probably do, then, Sinterklaas would find out what they wanted like that.

Oh, now saying Leuk Kerstfeest without the e makes sense! That “e” rule is still sinking in from last week, but those explanations were really clear, so I guess I do it right all the time really soon because I get it now.

Groetjes,

Cathleen

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Re: Christmas are coming!

Post by Quetzal » Sun Dec 05, 2010 10:51 pm

We don't really say anything for Sinterklaas, I guess because it's mostly a holiday for children, and holiday wishes are an adult sort of thing. ;) Children do indeed write letters to him, yes.

Though as for some important expressions:

- zijn/haar schoen zetten: putting one's shoe, originally below the chimney, but since most houses don't have chimneys anymore, it'll be in the hall or living room or so, and then the next morning Sinterklaas will have left the candy/gifts in the shoe

- Zwarte Piet: Sinterklaas' helper, there are some problems there with the tradition being rather racist, so in recent years Zwarte Piet has changed somewhat in an effort to make the whole thing less racist (he used to be a black guy with red lips, rather stupid, you get the idea, not very PC)

And for Christmas, we most commonly say "Vrolijk kerstfeest", but "Leuk kerstfeest" or others are also possible. December 26th ("Boxing Day") is called Tweede Kerstdag, and is generally also a day off. The tree is called a "kerstboom", and we often put a "kerststal" (Nativity Scene is what Wikipedia calls it) under or near it.

I've seen the scene you mention, Cathleen, though not the rest of the movie (my then-girlfriend, who is American, was rather excited when she watched it again and realized that that was Dutch and she could understand it). What you have to keep in mind is that Santa Claus is an imported phenomenon for us, and I believe the date when that tradition first arrived was precisely after WWII, when that movie was made. So it makes sense that at the time, a Dutch girl would not yet be familiar with the concept of the "kerstman", so she'd be told it was Sinterklaas. As it is now, there is no real consensus about the "kerstman" - in some families he brings additional presents for the children, in some families people just give each other presents directly, in still others there are no presents at all. When I was a child I'd get presents from my godfather and godmother for Christmas, but not from my parents.

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Re: Christmas are coming!

Post by Beygir » Mon Dec 06, 2010 10:29 am

My gf told me some things about how she used to spend 5 december evenings about 15 years ago... She told me that she would hear a loud knock on the door, and then the door would suddenly open and sinterklaas (or keerstman? I'm confused :P) would throw a lot of some kind of candies or something like that, and she would run to see him but she could never catch up with him, etc... And lots of other things, like presents, etc... But I can't remember all of them, and maybe there are some details she hasn't told...

So, if I were to prepare a surprise nostalgic time travel for her, what would I need to do? I would like to get some preparations done, and make her cry out of happiness ^^ Any help will be appreciated greatly :)

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Re: Christmas are coming!

Post by Quetzal » Mon Dec 06, 2010 7:54 pm

Sinterklaas, though usually the one doing the actual candy throwing is Zwarte Piet (or one of them, in the version with large amounts of them). Sinterklaas has retained much of his historical roots (Turkish, actually, as you might know, or more accurately Byzantine), in that he still looks much like a bishop and walks and acts with the same dignity.

For more information on all things Sinterklaas (and a lot of fun in the process, at least I think so, but then I'm nostalgic), I recommend the Flemish television series "Dag Sinterklaas" (though since our tradition differs somewhat from the Dutch one, you should be careful), and the Dutch book "Het Sinterklaasboek / Het Kerstboek" (it's a two-sided book, on one side it's a story about Sinterklaas, if you turn it around it's a story about Christmas) by Jaap ter Haar. Though that one is somewhat old-fashioned.

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Re: Christmas are coming!

Post by daisyD » Wed Dec 08, 2010 7:10 pm

By the way - can someone suggest any Christmas song in Dutch
+the place where I can listen it! :)

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Re: Christmas are coming!

Post by andreengels » Thu Dec 09, 2010 12:39 am


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Re: Christmas are coming!

Post by Joke » Thu Dec 09, 2010 1:42 pm

Quetzal wrote:And Cathleen, I'm not sure where you came up with "ladybird" as a translation for "kapoentje"?
I just found this on wikipedia:
Daarnaast is kapoen of kapoentje de benaming voor het lieveheersbeestje in bepaalde streektalen. Niet zo verwonderlijk als men weet dat het diertje tot de orde der haantjes behoort.
Apparently, in some dialects, kapoen means ladybird.

But I don't think this is the meaning that's meant in the Sinterklaas song.

Joke

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Re: Christmas are coming!

Post by firefly315 » Fri Dec 10, 2010 10:59 pm

Hi Quetzal,

I had a wicked busy week, but anyway, now I’m back! Thanks for your very thorough explanations about Sinterklaas. I thought that children wrote to Sinterklaas instead of to de Kerstman because they get presents on the night of December 5 and open them the next day.

Only older houses like the one in which I grew up (it was built in the 1920’s) have chimneys in the US too, but if people have a mantle, then they hang our stockings “by the chimney with care.” Adults still put stockings out, but just because it’s fun :), so it’s obviously different than it is for children. I guess people without chimney’s put their stockings in the living room. I’m not sure.

Yeah, I heard that you guys were starting to call them “rainbow” Pieten. How do you say “rainbow” in Dutch?

Thanks for letting me know that “Vrolijk kerstfeest” is more common. I heard “Leuk kerrstfeest” on a cassette tape that my grandma had when I was little. I still have the tape. Putting a “kerststal” under or near the tree is cool. We put ours on a table or something. A lot of people put it in the same room with the tree.

I was so excited too, the first time that I heard that scene. All of a sudden, I realized that was Dutch, but at the time I only got part of it because it was the year that I started Dutch. It’s still really cool to see that part and understand all of it.

The background about how you “imported” having Santa Claus because you already had Sinterklaas is really interesting. It must have been really fun to get presents from your godfather and godmother for Christmas after you had already gotten other presents on December 5. Sinterklaas looks really cool.

I’ll have to look for Dag Sinterklaas on You Tube or the Dutch movie and television site I found once. I forget what it’s called, but I could probably find it again online.


I’ve heard of “Het Sinterklaasboek / Het Kerstboek,” but haven’t seen it. I guess that would be on bruna.nl or bol.com because those two sites both sell Dutch books. It sounds great though! Thanks for sharing. :)

Groetjes,

Cathleen

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Re: Christmas are coming!

Post by firefly315 » Fri Dec 10, 2010 11:06 pm

Joke wrote:
Quetzal wrote:And Cathleen, I'm not sure where you came up with "ladybird" as a translation for "kapoentje"?
I just found this on wikipedia:
Daarnaast is kapoen of kapoentje de benaming voor het lieveheersbeestje in bepaalde streektalen. Niet zo verwonderlijk als men weet dat het diertje tot de orde der haantjes behoort.
Apparently, in some dialects, kapoen means ladybird.

But I don't think this is the meaning that's meant in the Sinterklaas song.

Joke
Hoi Joke,

That was a really cool find. Thanks for posting that! 8) I think you're right, though --- that's probably not what it means in that Sinterklaas song.

Groetjes,

Cathleen

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Re: Christmas are coming!

Post by Quetzal » Fri Dec 10, 2010 11:15 pm

firefly315 wrote:Hi Quetzal,

I had a wicked busy week, but anyway, now I’m back! Thanks for your very thorough explanations about Sinterklaas. I thought that children wrote to Sinterklaas instead of to de Kerstman because they get presents on the night of December 5 and open them the next day.

Only older houses like the one in which I grew up (it was built in the 1920’s) have chimneys in the US too, but if people have a mantle, then they hang our stockings “by the chimney with care.” Adults still put stockings out, but just because it’s fun :), so it’s obviously different than it is for children. I guess people without chimney’s put their stockings in the living room. I’m not sure.
Yeah, I don't think anyone really does the stocking thing with Christmas here, not even the families where there are actually presents under the tree when the children wake up on Christmas. I suspect you guys just started doing it because of our shoe custom, anyway. :P
firefly315 wrote:Yeah, I heard that you guys were starting to call them “rainbow” Pieten. How do you say “rainbow” in Dutch?

Thanks for letting me know that “Vrolijk kerstfeest” is more common. I heard “Leuk kerrstfeest” on a cassette tape that my grandma had when I was little. I still have the tape. Putting a “kerststal” under or near the tree is cool. We put ours on a table or something. A lot of people put it in the same room with the tree.

I was so excited too, the first time that I heard that scene. All of a sudden, I realized that was Dutch, but at the time I only got part of it because it was the year that I started Dutch. It’s still really cool to see that part and understand all of it.

The background about how you “imported” having Santa Claus because you already had Sinterklaas is really interesting. It must have been really fun to get presents from your godfather and godmother for Christmas after you had already gotten other presents on December 5. Sinterklaas looks really cool.
Yeah, and now the process is repeating itself with Halloween. When I was a kid, it wasn't really celebrated much, but in recent years, the candy and toy industries have done valiant attempts to introduce trick-or-treating here. Some children do indeed do it now, but it's a bit hit-or-miss - most people aren't aware of it and won't have any candy ready, and some people are actively hostile to the whole idea because they resent the industry's attempts to force a foreign holiday on them.

Though while we're on the topic, we do actually have another holiday which does have a tradition of children going round the neighbourhood ringing at doors: Driekoningen (Three Kings, i.e. the three magi who visited Jesus, the holiday is also known in English as Twelfth Night because it's the twelfth night after Christmas - we just celebrate it during the day on January 6th, though). If I recall correctly, in Spain and Italy, the main present-getting holiday for children is then, not on Christmas or Sinterklaas. In Belgium, there are no presents, but children go around in a way similar to trick-or-treating, except they sing songs instead, and get either candy or money for charity (not sure how widespread that last thing is, but I did it a number of times with our parish, anyway). Not entirely sure about how they do Driekoningen in the Netherlands, either.

Oh, and rainbow = regenboog (so same words, regen = rain and boog = bow).
firefly315 wrote:I’ll have to look for Dag Sinterklaas on You Tube or the Dutch movie and television site I found once. I forget what it’s called, but I could probably find it again online.

I’ve heard of “Het Sinterklaasboek / Het Kerstboek,” but haven’t seen it. I guess that would be on bruna.nl or bol.com because those two sites both sell Dutch books. It sounds great though! Thanks for sharing. :)

Groetjes,

Cathleen
A lot of Dag Sinterklaas does seem to be on Youtube, yes. But again, keep in mind that that's Flemish - there are some differences with the Dutch way of celebrating Sinterklaas, as you will see if you compare it to the Sinterklaasboek (which, yes, Bol.com does indeed sell, I bought it there for my then-girlfriend).

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Re: Christmas are coming!

Post by firefly315 » Sun Dec 12, 2010 4:07 am

Quetzal wrote:
firefly315 wrote:Hi Quetzal,

I had a wicked busy week, but anyway, now I’m back! Thanks for your very thorough explanations about Sinterklaas. I thought that children wrote to Sinterklaas instead of to de Kerstman because they get presents on the night of December 5 and open them the next day.

Only older houses like the one in which I grew up (it was built in the 1920’s) have chimneys in the US too, but if people have a mantle, then they hang our stockings “by the chimney with care.” Adults still put stockings out, but just because it’s fun :), so it’s obviously different than it is for children. I guess people without chimney’s put their stockings in the living room. I’m not sure.
Yeah, I don't think anyone really does the stocking thing with Christmas here, not even the families where there are actually presents under the tree when the children wake up on Christmas. I suspect you guys just started doing it because of our shoe custom, anyway. :P
Hey! ;) We had the stocking thing before the poem The Night Before Christmas was written by Clement C, Moore in 1822, but I don’t know when it started. I don’t know why we don’t put shoes out, but after that poem came out, it makes sense.
firefly315 wrote:Yeah, I heard that you guys were starting to call them “rainbow” Pieten. How do you say “rainbow” in Dutch?

Thanks for letting me know that “Vrolijk kerstfeest” is more common. I heard “Leuk kerrstfeest” on a cassette tape that my grandma had when I was little. I still have the tape. Putting a “kerststal” under or near the tree is cool. We put ours on a table or something. A lot of people put it in the same room with the tree.

I was so excited too, the first time that I heard that scene. All of a sudden, I realized that was Dutch, but at the time I only got part of it because it was the year that I started Dutch. It’s still really cool to see that part and understand all of it.

The background about how you “imported” having Santa Claus because you already had Sinterklaas is really interesting. It must have been really fun to get presents from your godfather and godmother for Christmas after you had already gotten other presents on December 5. Sinterklaas looks really cool.
Quetzal wrote:Yeah, and now the process is repeating itself with Halloween. When I was a kid, it wasn't really celebrated much, but in recent years, the candy and toy industries have done valiant attempts to introduce trick-or-treating here. Some children do indeed do it now, but it's a bit hit-or-miss - most people aren't aware of it and won't have any candy ready, and some people are actively hostile to the whole idea because they resent the industry's attempts to force a foreign holiday on them.

Though while we're on the topic, we do actually have another holiday which does have a tradition of children going round the neighbourhood ringing at doors: Driekoningen (Three Kings, i.e. the three magi who visited Jesus, the holiday is also known in English as Twelfth Night because it's the twelfth night after Christmas - we just celebrate it during the day on January 6th, though). If I recall correctly, in Spain and Italy, the main present-getting holiday for children is then, not on Christmas or Sinterklaas. In Belgium, there are no presents, but children go around in a way similar to trick-or-treating, except they sing songs instead, and get either candy or money for charity (not sure how widespread that last thing is, but I did it a number of times with our parish, anyway). Not entirely sure about how they do Driekoningen in the Netherlands, either.

Oh, and rainbow = regenboog (so same words, regen = rain and boog = bow
That’s interesting, but I’ll bet that more people are starting to do it if kids have started to celebrate Halloween. It’s nice that you have another holiday

In the US, if we don’t want to answer the door that night, we just turn off the porch light. So, children know that they should only go to the houses which have porch lights on. Maybe that would work for you guys --- for whomever doesn’t want to participate.

However, there have always been so many kids on the street on which I grew up, that my parents still pass out candy --- actually potato chips because I started that when I was little because I don’t like candy, so I’m never going to try Drop because I don’t even eat our candy. :P

Yeah, I heard that children get presents on January 6 in Italy, although, I’m not sure about Spain. I only took Spanish 1 in high school, and I don’t remember that from class --- I was going to Spain for two days after we went to France with my high school and I was thinking about pursuing Spanish, but I was still deciding which language to learn as my third.

Those sound like fun Driekoningen traditions :).
We call January 6 “The Epiphany” in the US and we call them the Three Kings or the Three Wise Men. I guess they call that day “Twelfth Night” in England.

Thanks for giving me the word for rainbow.
firefly315 wrote:I’ll have to look for Dag Sinterklaas on You Tube or the Dutch movie and television site I found once. I forget what it’s called, but I could probably find it again online.

I’ve heard of “Het Sinterklaasboek / Het Kerstboek,” but haven’t seen it. I guess that would be on bruna.nl or bol.com because those two sites both sell Dutch books. It sounds great though! Thanks for sharing. :)

Groetjes,

Cathleen
Quetzal wrote:A lot of Dag Sinterklaas does seem to be on Youtube, yes. But again, keep in mind that that's Flemish - there are some differences with the Dutch way of celebrating Sinterklaas, as you will see if you compare it to the Sinterklaasboek (which, yes, Bol.com does indeed sell, I bought it there for my then-girlfriend).
Thanks. I’ll check them out.

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