Sinterklaas is a Dutch holiday on the 5th of December, that can be compared to the more commonly known Santa Claus. Sinterklaas is an old man with helpers called Zwarte Piet, who gives presents to children every year. After interviewing several students in F-building, EM found that Sinterklaas is relatively unknown to international students.
‘What? Sinterklaas? No, what is it?’ was the most common reaction when interviewing students in the F-building. However, there were two exceptions. Enzo from Brazil knew there was such a thing as Sinterklaas in the Netherlands, as well as Silvia from Albania: ‘A Dutch friend told me about that today. I asked him about special Dutch holidays and he mentioned Sinterklaas, on the 5th of December, right? He also said something about all this candy, I’m definitely going to try it sometime soon!’
As Sinterklaas is mostly focused on childen, we don’t want to go into detail about him too much. However, Sinterklaas is not just about kids getting presents, but also about many different kinds of traditional Dutch candy. We don’t want international students to miss this, so here’s an overview of all the delicious Sinterklaas candy you can find in Dutch supermarkets all around Rotterdam.
Probably the most traditional and well-known Sinterklaas-delicacy. Small, round biscuits that are loved by the largest part of the Dutch population. They also come in a chocolate-coated version. Mixed with other kinds of sweets it’s called ‘strooigoed’, which means ‘stuff to scatter’, as Sinterklaas’ helpers typically throw it towards children.
A bit tough, a little less sweet than pepernoten, but also quite nice. Taai-taai are biscuits in the shape of a puppet that looks like Sinterklaas or Zwarte Piet.
Literally: chocolate letters. It’s a Dutch tradition to give other people the first letter of their name in chocolate. Chocolate addicts sometimes receive their whole names in chocolate letters. After the 5th of December, supermarkets sell these letters for half-price. So if you want to build a stock of cheap chocolate for the rest of the year, go to the Albert Heijn or Hema on the 6th of December.
Most of you probably already know marzipan, but the Dutch use this candy to make any figure or shape you can possibly imagine. In stores you find marzipan pigs, shoes, computers, lipsticks, you name it. Also a fun way of surprising your friend/lover/roommate: crafting a marzipan shape of your own. You can buy it in stores, shape it into anything you like and decorate it with food coloring. It’s a very creative way to tell someone how you feel about him/her. Whether you use this in a positive or negative way is completely up to you.
Speculaas is a kind of cookie sold the year round, but speculaaspoppen (‘speculaas dolls’) are the larger and doll-shaped version of this type of cookie. So if you like speculaas and want to go all the way, buy a real speculaas doll. You’ll be full, that’s a promise.
Last of all, the oldest kind of candy to be found in this country. It’s made of just milk, sugar and water, that can be flavored by for instance vanilla or cacao. This kind of candy was invented in the 16th century and still exists in supermarkets today, although its popularity is decreasing. However, if you really want to try something vintage, go get yourself some borstplaat.
We highly recommend you to try some of these delicacies, as it’s a great opportunity to experience some Dutch culture. Enjoy, preferably with some hot chocolate on a rainy afternoon. IS