The ABCDE playgroup mummies worked together to host one of the most wonderful Sinterklaasfeestje I have experienced till now since we moved to the Netherlands in 2012. My initial thoughts were scary! Over 40 children registered to attend the party. The ages varied from ‘a few days’ old to 8 years old. How are we going to control all the kids? What a chaos! As soon as the party started my fears were over.
A cacophony of different languages, a mixture of nationalities! A harmony of greetings, introductions and welcomes. What a pleasant atmosphere, practically a representation of the world in one room!
The most prominent thing in the party hall was the carton box steamboat. A talented mummy of 2 girls, Vicky, collected all the necessary materials and a few days before the party in a few hours she succeeded in building such a masterpiece. The kids could crawl in the steamboat through a hole. Some kids tried to sing Sinterklaas songs while others sang the regularly-practised song during the
Bow-wow sessions called “Berend Botje”. Other children tried to sail the boat where at one point one could see the enormous boat moving across the hall! But the boat was not only an attraction to the children. The mummies also wanted a memory of it. They climbed or crawled in it and asked the daddies to take a picture in order to remember this occasion!
In order to keep the active children busy, apart from setting up a long table with scrumptious food (some of which was delicately prepared at home), a crafts table was set up. Some children ran towards the table to draw Sinterklaas colouring pages while others prepared a Black Peter hat. While the parents were monitoring their kids from a distance, it was very interesting and lovely to see the older kids/siblings helping the younger ones! Such a lovely moment to capture!
The clock struck 12:00. Five Black Peters ran into the hall shouting and throwing pepernoten. Singing started! Excitement! Kids picking pepernoten from the floor! Yeah it sounds yikes! But it’s a Dutch tradition to pick these cookies from the ground and indulge a taste of cinnamon and other spices. At that moment, it seems that hygiene issues were completely forgotten. Majestically HE entered the hall wearing a red cape over a white dress, red mitre, croziers (stick), a shiny white beard, white gloves and a golden ring with a shiny red gem on the fourth finger on the left hand. He was holding the ‘famous’ red book. Most of the kids were excited and ran to shake hands with him while the small ones got scared so one could hear some crying as well. Sinterklaas sat on a comfortable chair prepared specifically for him and started talking and explaining what he writes and keeps in his red book. Dead silence! All children attentive! Best behaving kids ever! Wow! At one point: was I dreaming or was this the reality? Singing again! The excitement kept piling up as soon as the gifts distribution moment arrived. Sitting on the ground nibbling pepernoten and food while waiting for their name to be called. The sounds one can here were names, tearing and rustling of wrapping paper, children surprise utterances as they unwrap their well-deserved gifts! More loud singing and Sinterklaas and his gang left the hall to visit other children.
Game time! Yeeey! Pass the parcel! How quickly the young ones grasped the rule of the game! Music stops and the child holding the parcel unwraps! What a surprise! Needless to say, a pair of children got a little disappointed when they weren’t feeling lucky. What about the “zit op jouw bil” game? Similar to musical chairs, but instead participants (children & adults) sit on the ground when the music stops! The last group became so professional that the game took forever to stop, so they were declared as winners! The singing challenge was a lovely game as well. Who can hold the longest breath while singing ‘Fijne Sinterklaasfeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeestje’?
For some children, this was a lovely challenge but cute at the same time when the 3 year olds competed against the 6 & 8 year olds.
To conclude the Sinterklaas event, the children were asked to form a choir. For about 10 minutes, they sang Sinterklaas songs and as a last song they sang “Zeg maar dag met je handje”. This was a very emotional moment for me and with it came a few tears! Seeing and hearing all the children doing their best to sing and perform and show what they are capable of! Who wouldn’t be proud of the ABCDE playgroup children? For some of these children, the playgroup was their first social place. This Sinterklaasfeestje may have been the first Sinterklaas encounter for some children too! The party is over but the memories of it remains in pictures & video clips.