Gezellig!!!!!! Today its Sinterklaas’  Bday!

Actually tomorrow, but he always celebrates it on the 5th of December in The Netherlands, because on the 6th he sails back with his steamboot and “Zwarte Pieten” to Spain. Naughty children won’t get candies or presents in their shoe, but they have to travel with Sinterklaas to Spain, in a bag. Luckily the bag is made of jute so you can breathe through it. I’ve always wanted to accompany Sinterklaas to Spain when I was younger, ’cause Spain seems warmer and drier than The Netherlands, but I never actually ever met anyone who’s been lucky enough to have been bad enough to be taken to Spain. I was invited to spend Christmas in Spain though, could be cool too!

We celebrated the holiday yesterday with The Posse, my international group of Amsterdam friends. There was some Dutch tradition involved but I think we actually started our own new tradition. Before unwrapping the presents, The Dutch normally eat sometime quick and easy (that’s about equal to Dutch cuisine), such as boerenkool (mash pot of borekole/kale, recipe soon!) or erwtensoep (traditional Dutch peasoup, recipe soon!). Two beautiful dishes actually, but some of the posse-members are from Sardinia and thus allergic to pees (yes, REALLY!) and boerenkool I had only just recently introduced The Posse to. Sooooo……. since we couldn’t decide what to cook, we decided that everyone (which was 16 pax in this case), had to cook something & bring something to drink. This resulted into our Sinterklaas celebration being an international food feast. We had a buffet of tasty dishes consisting of Spagheti bolognese, moussaka, Indonesian fried rice with homemade pickles and some garnish, multiple salads, mashed potatoe with bacon and everyone’s favourite; moose stew from our Swedish Posse-member. Did I forget anything? Hereafter we started the Sinterklaas game. Everyone had to buy 3 presents of maximum € 5,- together and wrap these. After entering the appartment, everyone put his presents on the table and the pile was growing ’till after the dinner-buffet. The game is played with a dice and it’s cool (okay I got lots of presents…)! With the low budget it totally calls for creativity and I loved how everyone tried his best. Depending on what you throw with the dice, you have to pick another present, steal someone’s present, unwrap your present, make someone give a present away and so on. It’s hilarious because people were attracted to the packaging and the contents of the package is not always what it seems… There are many variations to this game and my personal tip is; Agree with Your Posse that the budget is € 0,-. Everyone has to bring 3 presents from his house, everyone has something at home he doesn’t use but it can be very useful to someone else.

After the game, which took some hours (and friends showing new or true faces), we all “had to” pick a paper with a name and the big surprise was; everyone had 30 minutes to write a poem about the person he picked. The poem had to be 6 lines minimum and once again it’s cool to experience your friends in a creative way you’ve never seen before! I think the best kick off was; “Dear E, I don’t know you very well, but you look very well. ” After picking the name, it was time for the dessert-buffet. From Sweden we had a gorgeous dessert which I don’t want to name but the Urban dictionary explains perfectly over HERE . Absolutely lovely! It was his first time to make these and the Swede knows his …. balls. There also was a pure chocolate mouse with strawberries, a Spanish flan, a chocolate cake decorated with forest fruits and berries and maybe I forgot about something else? After all the sweets there was some time left to write the poem and to give some Posse-members the time to quote whole Italian songs or fill up an A4-paper and others to struggle on their 6 sentences. We laughed so much reading the poems out loud…

Of course there’s a whole historic story behind Sinterklaas and the Zwarte Pieten, but for us yesterday that was irrelevant, we were in it for the gezelligheid. Gezelligheid is a Dutch abstract noun (adjective form gezellig) which, depending on context, can be translated as convivial, cosy, fun, quaint, or nice atmosphere, but can also connote belonging, time spent with loved ones, the fact of seeing a friend after a long absence, or general togetherness. The word is considered to be an example of untranslatability, and is one of the hardest words to translate to English. Some consider the word to encompass the heart of Dutch culture. The word derives from gezel which means companion or friend. During the Middle Ages a gezel was also the Dutch term for a journeyman, which in the Dutch guild system formed a group around a single Master craftsman; hence the added meaning of belonging. The adjective gezellig can be used in a wide variety of situations. For example; A room can be gezellig (meaning cosy or inviting), a person can be gezellig (meaning entertaining or pleasant), a party can be gezellig (meaning fun), a visit to ones grandparents can be gezellig (meaning togetherness), a set of curtains can be gezellig (meaning pretty or nice). Gezellig can also be used as an exclamation, in which can either carry the meanings described above or be used sarcastically or ironically. The Danish word hygge is very close in meaning. Etymologically, it is related to the Dutch word “heugen“, meaning to make happy. However when used negatively marked differences become visible, as in Dutch ongezellig simply means not gezellig. In Danish however, uhyggelig means scary or nasty. The German term Gemütlichkeit (of which “gemoedelijkheid” is its Dutch cognate), invoking cosiness and comfort and which has also been adopted by the English language, covers some of the possible meanings of gezellig, but not all.

Let’s play something. MUSICHETAAA! (F.Y.I. I don’t generally listen to this kind of music, but some parts of The Posse does and I actually enjoyed it for the 1st time this wknd!)…. So here’s a modern (Dubstep) version of a traditional Sinterklaas song…

Thank you my friends, for a beautiful celebration yesterday. Thanks Blondes for your organisation. Thx Sinterklaas for the cute presents and thank you All so much for your creativity and good spirit. 🙂 Germans; next year we do a re-run for sure.

Thx Wiki & Urban Dict.