My time in Edinburgh is coming to an end, and all the people here are going to different places across the world for Christmas, so it was decided that we would all get together one last time this year, to exchange presents, eat cheese and drink wine. Ben went out and bought 14 bottles of wine and 5 kilos of cheese, and invited us all over to his flat for a whole day, and Rebekah pointed out that the 5th of December is actually Sinterklaas
, a Dutch holiday-thing, which means it would be ok to open presents.
Ben originally suggested that we come over at one, or even ten in the morning if anyone wanted to play Guitar Hero before the eating and drinking. Naturally we didn't, and since many of the denizens of Edinburgh have exams and other deadlines coming up, or in Tom's case, had been out drinking heavily the night before, the party began at the somewhat more normal hour of around four.
The cheese does not stand alone
Not having heard of Sinterklaas until about a week ago, I was not sure what to expect, and I decided to do a little research. According to wikipedia
, Sinterklaas, being both a man (a bishop, actually) and a holiday, will arrive in the Netherlands in mid-November each year, coming from Spain on a steamboat. In the time between his arrival and the 5th of December, children will place their shoes next to the fireplace in the evening, and during the night Sinterklaas, or one of his helpers, will place some candy in each shoe. Traditional choices of candy for this purpose includes pepernoten and hot chocolate(!).
On the eve of the 5th of December, Saint Nicholas' eve, one will then exchange presents. According to wikipedia, «Gifts are to be creatively disguised (for which the Dutch use the French word "surprise"), and are usually accompanied by a humorous poem which often teases the recipient for well-known bad habits or other character deficiencies.»
Presents were present
While we didn't pour hot chocolate into shoes, and didn't write any insulting (even if in a friendly way) poems, we did exchange presents, and we did have a feast. The food consisted of the earlier mentioned large amounts of cheese, bread and different kinds of cured meat, accompanied by wine, and while it am not certain this is the traditional meal eaten at Sinterklaas in the Netherlands, it was an excellent meal. In addition, opening presents from friends before Christmas strikes me as a good idea, as it saves one from opening potentially embarrassing items in the presence of family. All in all, I think I will try to make this into a tradition.