To all those that celebrate this festive holiday I wish you a very merry Christmas. For those who don’t… have a very merry day nonetheless.
So here I am celebrating my first Dutch Xmas. Well, kind of… I’m currently at home watching cartoons on the BBC. Thank heavens for digital TV & being able to watch festive proceedings on the Beeb. Hell, I might even be a bit nostalgic for ol’ Blighty & watch the Queen’s speech!
Getting the hang of the whole Dutch festivities is not that easy. Never mind the whole Sinterklass thing at the beginning of December which, if it was held in the UK, would have the PC brigade up in arms because of Sinterklass’ helper, Zwarte Piet. Have you seen him? Think of the blackface minstrels or golliwogs. If this kind of celebration was to be held in the UK there’d be a whole lot of people up in court on charges of racism.
There’s also the fact that December 24th (our Boxing Day) is also referred to as Christmas. Queue a very confused conversation with my boyfriend…
Me: You’re working Christmas night?
Me: But I thought we were going to your mum’s for dinner Christmas evening
Him: Yes we are
Me: (panicked expression on my face because I’m being told that the Dutch have apparently invented time travel & not told anybody). What? How? I don’t understand. You just said we were seeing your mum on Christmas
Me: But you’re working Christmas evening (my brain is slowly imploding at this point)
Him: Yes…. We’re going to see her on 2ndChristmas
Yes, apparently Boxing Day is referred to as “2ndChristmas”, or at least it is in our household.
Being away from the UK does make me miss the festive things I took for granted. Apparently advent calendars were around by I never saw any. I had to make do with a daily count down on the Facebook game Pet Society, where players got a shortbread treat each day from their stocking. Not quite the same. I want to be able to eat my calendar contents!
Next, take mince pies, our traditional sweet pie. You mention mince pies to anybody from outside of the UK & they look at you funny… “You eat minced meat for dessert?”
Another treat for myself would be a tin of Cadbury’s biscuits. The festive ones with the extra thick chocolate! Mmmmmmmm!
So it was that I was facing my first Christmas abroad somewhat lacking in British necessities. That was until we wandered into Amsterdam’s Waterstones book-store to pick up a present. Gods bless Waterstones!!! Walking through the door I was immediately faced with shelves of mince pies, Christmas puddings &… Cadbury’s biscuits!! I squealed & people in my vicinity looked at me as if I was slightly nuts as I grabbed boxes off the shelf in a mad panic. One floor up there was also a couple more shelves of shortbread biscuits, pickles & BIG jars of marmite. Hooray! Christmas was saved!
& yes… I did watch Queenie