December 1, 2007

Sinterklaas vs. Santa in Holland

Lousewies van der Laan, a former MP in Holland writes about the war over Xmas in Holland:

Yes, as the festive season descends upon us, even in the Netherlands we have political debates about Sinterklaas (the bearded bishop you see sold in chocolate in your local supermarket).

It's not along the American lines of replacing the Christian-centred "Merry Christmas" with the more neutral "Season's Greetings". No, it is a full-fledged economic and cultural battle between our great traditional Sinterklaas and that tacky American Santa.

Purists will point out that whereas Christmas has descended into a competitive "my-gift-is-more-expensive-than-yours" feast, gifts from Sinterklaas are truly anonymous and as such more in the true spirit of giving.

In addition, a poem is often included, which allows for mild reprimands, which the Calvinist Dutch adore. Finally, there is the "surprise" (pronounced sur-pree-za) whereby you do something artistic like wrap your present up to resemble something different or organise a trail with hints through the house. All much more industrious and creative than having Macy's wrap it for you."

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