My friend Debbie from Rainbows Within Reach was talking about different holidays and traditions and I thought I would share mine with you!
When I was growing up, my Dutch mother would always have us celebrate the holiday of Saint Nicholas on December 5th. The actual celebration is several days long. Sinter Klaas (Saint Nicholas) arrives in Holland (or in our case Chicago), several days before Saint Nicholas Day. The arrival of Sinter Klaas is a big occasion for each town in the Netherlands - often he comes on a boat and there are parades. Here's the news coverage of Sinter Klaas' arrival in Dordrecht which is a city in the western Netherlands, note that the boat is filled with Sinter Klaas' helpers - Zwarte Pieten. This translates as "Black Peters" - these helpers are black from the soot of chimneys, for that is how they listen to see which children are being bad and good and how they deliver presents.
Our family tradition was always to start the holiday on December 1st. This meant singing Sinter Klaas songs, and leaving our shoes by the back door when we went to bed at night. Sometimes we would leave a carrot in our shoes, as Sinter Klaas rides a white horse. Here's a traditional Sinter Klaas song that I learned growing up - whenever I talk about this in class I sing this song and my kids love it!
My mother always told us that if we were bad, Zwarte Piete would take us away in his big sack instead of leaving presents, so we were very careful to behave! Each night from Dec 1st - 4th we would each leave 1 shoe by the back door. In the morning it would have a small treat - maybe a net bag with foil wrapped chocolate coins, some Pffernusse (hard spiced cookies), licorice and of course, a chocolate letter.
As the holiday progressed, the excitement grew and often little toys would be found in our shoes as well. Then, on December 5th, Sinter Klaas would leave a note in our shoes, telling us how pleased he was with our behavior. Sometimes he would knock on the backdoor during breakfast (funny how my dad was never in the room) and we would run to the backdoor and find a sack with our big presents. Other times he would leave them with a Dutch friend and they would bring them over. Part of the fun was waiting to see how he would deliver those big presents - sometimes he would reveal the location of the sack in his note and we would tear through the house trying to locate it.
I always use the story of my family's Dutch traditions as a jumping off point to talk about the different holiday traditions of my students. All of my students celebrate Christmas this year, but we will still talk about holiday traditions around the world as well as how each family has their own unique traditions.
In honor of the start of the holiday season, I came up with a freebie for you! This is my way of saying thank you to all of my followers! I hope you enjoy this Holiday Gift Pack of 3 free math activities!
I am linking this post up to Freebielicious for their Fabulicious Freebies on the First linky! Head over to pick up some other great freebies!
For more holiday traditions - including some for Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and lots of great Christmas ideas, visit Prek + K Sharing's Holiday Celebrations Blog Hop!