Sinterklaas has arrived!
He is a guy whose age is unknown. He lived through many centuries and turned out to be a pretty generous fellow. Every winter, he arrives in his enormous steamboat packed with gifts. His helpers are acrobatic black guys who drop the gifts down the chimneys. He, his horse and his helpers walk over roofs to deliver their presents to children who have been sweet the past year. Maybe you guessed who I'm talking about by now or else this description must seem pretty ridiculous. Sinterklaas is coming to town!
Sinterklaas is a Dutch festivity that takes place every year on the 5th of december. Almost every Dutch child younger than seven, actually believes what was described above. These stories are passed on from generation to generation. However, most students know by now that Sinterklaas is only a myth, but that doesn't stop them from celebrating on the 5th of december!
Originally Sinterklaas is an evening for the family. Everybody gives eachother gifts and makes a fun poem about another family-member. When you have younger brothers or sisters the whole night is an act, because the younger ones actually believe that Sinterklaas delivers all the gifts and makes the poems. And for the ones that don't believe the tale anymore, it is always a great thing to get gifts while you nibble on kruidnoten and speculaas.
Students in Groningen celebrate Sinterklaas a little different. All the different commissions and clubs within student- and study associations sit down to celebrate the presence of the old man. Weeks in advance, there is a kind of lottery and everybody gets a ticket with the name of someone else on it. You have to write a poem and buy a gift for that particular friend. Everybody tries to write a really harsh poem and give a useless but funny gift with a reference to the person you give it to.
On the 5th of december, or an evening somewhere close to that date, everybody sits down together and all the gifts and poems are put on one big pile. This has to be done in a way that the giver remains anonymous. Next, you have to throw dice to see who gets his gift and poem first. The person who receives the gift also has to read the poem that was written for him. Some people even include fun assignments in their poem or make the person who reads it drink.
This way the evening of the 5th of december turns into a night full of comedy and laughter. Everybody gets razed to the ground, but afterwards you have a laugh about it. At first it may seem a little odd, but give it a try! With these instructions you can have a fun night with your friends the way students in Groningen do it. Long live Sinterklaas!
Door: Tomas Riemens