Seasonal Greetings

The Beestenmarkt in Delft. Currently a beer garden, but by December it converts to an ice rink.

Happy Halloween, and warm wishes for electricity to all of you on the US East Coast. It’s firmly fall here, and since there’s no Thanksgiving and Halloween is but a semi-holiday, we proceed directly to Sinterklaas and Christmas. Hooray!

The trees are burning yellow; the streets are graced by Cinderella pumpkins intended to be eaten, not just carved (shout-out to a certain resident of Keene, NH); and the shops are full of Zwarte Pieten.

Sinterklaas arrives in Holland in late November (check your town here) and spends a few weeks going around checking up on people (i.e., determining if ZP needs to take you back to Spain in his sack) before the actual holiday on 5 December, so my favorite chocolate shop is not yet carrying the traditional chocolate letters. Marzipan everything is everywhere, though, and kruidnoten (Hmm: should I make them?) are at the markets—both are signs that the holidays are coming.

Although I am grateful for the excuse to listen to Christmas music early, and I’ve never been huge on Halloween, I was still a bit affronted back in September when I saw a Christmas tree appear in the window of a local bookshop. I wandered in to investigate and discovered that the tree signified a contest, wherein people could decorate the tree with knitted ornaments and the three top ornaments chosen by the staff of the bookshop would win some rather enticing prizes. I decided that of course I must enter, and having never knitted anything round in my life, set out to make a model of Sinterklaas himself.

Here’s the result. I didn’t work off a pattern but found a tutorial for the basic ball (at which point I created a greyish ball and pronounced it “Sinterklaas’s head”) and then designed several prototypes myself for the beard before arriving at one I liked. His hat is a little more beanie than bishop, but now he’s on his way: decorating the bookshop for the holidays.

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