In terms of weather and festivities, this weekend was rather exciting. Throughout the afternoon on Friday, squall-ish snow whipped through the city and stuck to the ground. Shops were open late that evening for Sinterklaas shopping, and I think everyone in Delft was out walking around, throwing snowballs, enjoying the lights and the scenery.
Saturday we were up early because we heard that Gamma, a hardware-store chain like Home Depot in the US, was selling Christmas trees. My loose understanding is that Christmas trees decorated in the home are not a long-standing Dutch tradition, but have gained popularity over the years. IKEA was also selling trees, and so were some florists, but Gamma had the right price. For just under 20 Euros we carted off our first real tree, about 4 feet tall and absolutely perfect! While we selected our tree it began to snow again, hard. Most of the people buying big trees had brought cars, and we carried our tree home (by “we” I mean “Tim”), but I did see a guy biking with one. I wasn’t quick enough with the camera!
Saturday was Sinterklaasavond (Sinterklaas Eve—when kids get gifts), and with the continued snow the air of holiday excitement was palpable in the city. Parents were pulling kids around in wooden sleds, kids were throwing snowballs everywhere (including at my head), and everyone was bustling around picking up last-minute gifts.
Not to be weather snobs, but we’re from New England… and so to us this wasn’t a phenomenal amount of snow (though it was absolutely beautiful). However, for Holland, these few inches are quite a lot for one event. I asked an older Dutch gentleman if this was a normal amount of snow for Delft and without hesitation he replied, “The most in thirty years, in December.” His wife was quick to chime in and add that they would see snow in January or February, but she couldn’t remember the last time they’d had snow for the feast of Saint Nicholas.
Sunday the temperature snuck back above freezing and it rained all day, washing the snow away (sad). Historically, the canals throughout Holland would freeze and be used for skating and playing in the winter. In southern Holland, this hasn’t happened the past few winters (climate change). However, there is a strong hope that this winter will be cold enough that the canals will freeze again. We’re rooting for it!
PS. Remember that writing contest I was in last month? Well, it turns out I was one of the winners (so thank you if you voted!), and I will be writing a three-part series for The Purple Passport. The first installment is posted now!