Tonight all the nice kids in Belgium and The Netherlands will get a visit from Sinterklaas (Saint Nicolas) and Zwarte Piet (Black Pete). It’s a tradition here, just like Santa Claus in the US (and all over the world).
He rides his white horse over the rooftops and sends Pete down the chimneys (that’s why he’s black, it’s a dirty job) to leave presents, chocolates and sweets for the children.
We don’t hang socks, we put a shoe next to the hearth with a carrot for the horse (he’s called ‘slechtweervandaag’ which translates to ‘badweathertoday’) and cookies, a beer or soda for Pete or The Saint himself.
When I was little, there was a tv series called ‘Dag Sinterklaas’ (Hello Saint Nicolas) and I can still remember the intro music. it’s something that will stay with me forever. I’ll put a link to an episode here. It’s an old series but the moment it came on tv, year after year, it got me in the holiday spirit.
All of this made me think of my childhood and the books I read. Of course most of the books I read were written in Dutch and were never translated but there is one author that I want to mention because I love her and you can buy some of her books in English.
Her name is Annie M.G. Smith, she wrote the most amazing stories that were read to me at school and which I read for myself later on. Now many years later, I’m reading them to my daughter.
Jip and Janneke are best friends. They go on many adventures together but it’s all very recognizable. They eat to many sweets, they play in the rain, they build a fort,… They get into trouble all the time but mostly they are innocent kids that just want to play.
The drawings were made by Fiep Westendorp. They are mostly black and white with every now and then a pop of colour. Jip and Janneke are always black and white though..
Some of her other books are ‘Abel’ about an elevator boy who presses a mysterious button which makes the elevator shoot through the roof.
‘Messy-Lou’ (Floddertje in Dutch) who can’t help but make a mess.
‘Odette’ (Otje) whose father is a great cook but he can’t get a job because he doesn’t have any papers.
And last but not least there’s Tow Truck Pluck (Pluk van de Petteflet) which my teacher read to us in class when I was 9.
More information about Annie M.G. Smith and her books can be found on this website.
And that’s it for today. A little insight into my childhood years.
See you tomorrow!
In other news, I finished Fangirl and I really liked it. It’s not one of my favourites though, but I’ll review it in a couple of days..