Thursday, December 8, 2016

Christmas in Europe

Amsterdam is beautifully lit up with Christmas lights during the Light Festival. I make sure that I am in Holland on the 5th of December every year for the wonderful celebrations with family. In the USA, there are no businesses open on Christmas day and then we hit the store sales the day after, but in England, Xmas extends to “Boxing Day”. Over the past few centuries, servants served the gentry, then on the 26th December, they boxed up the leftovers and took them to their relatives for their day off.
In Holland and in Germany, the “second Christmas Day” is a time to treat your family to dine in a restaurant. I had a wonderful breakfast at my hotel, the Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam. Librije's Zusies is a Michelin star Restaurant at the Waldorf, with delightful cuisine, so I may take the family there as a treat.

The legend of the kindly Pope’s representative, (The Bishop) arriving, is played out with much pageantry in Holland to this day. Sinterklaas arrives annually on a Saturday at the end of November. This event is broadcast on national Television, each year he arrives at a different city by boat.

I traveled to Amsterdam with some friends from America and enjoyed their astonishment at seeing Santa’s helpers because he is always accompanied by 2 fake black moors! They are both named “zwarte Piet”( Translated is: “black Peter”). Though there have been some racist accusations, so this year I have seen some Purple Piete and they don’t call them zwarte anymore, just “Piete” Pity, because it made Dutch children look fondly on black people. Though, I have to admit, it is the strangest thing to see 2 grown men in tights with black makeup covering their faces! Well worth hopping on a KLM flight to cross the pond to experience a Dutch Christmas, if you can keep a straight face.

Children place one of their shoes in front of the fireplace (or heater). Inside the shoe, they place a carrot (for his horse), and a list of desired gifts that they hope will appear on December 5. Did you notice that I said that in Holland St. Nic delivers the gifts on Dec 5th and not on Dec 25 as he does in other parts of the world and that he has a horse in the Netherlands whereas he needs reindeer to travel globally~ Germany is also a delightful country to visit at Christmas time. I love the schönen Christmas Markets! #SantaClaus and the Hotel Palace in Berlin's city center/Kurfuerstendamm with a nice, SPA + indoor pool. The Palace is a member of The Leading Hotels of the World Group.

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