My husband is half Italian, half Dutch. When we got married and were trying to decide which Christmas traditions we wanted to keep from our childhood and which new ones we wanted to create it was pretty challenging. There were three different cultures coming into play and two very different perspectives. We tried a few different solutions, and then decided on this one, which has been a huge blessing and a lot of fun for our family.
We decided to celebrate Santa, and therefore presents, on Sinterklaas day (Santa in Dutch), and to concentrate on celebrating Jesus’ birth on Christmas through other special traditions.
So in Holland Sinterklaas day is traditionally celebrated on December 5, the eve of Saint Nicholas Day (the 6th of December). Kids put out their wooden shoes in hopes that Sinterklaas will leave them chocolates or other small prizes. Then on December 5 someone knocks on the door with a bag of goodies! It is a day to celebrate with the family, with food and gifts and fun.
We have created our own little version of this over the years. Our kids leave out their wooden shoes on December 4th. They put carrots in their shoes for Santa’s reindeer (or horse depending on the story you choose). When they wake up on the morning of the 5th, their shoes are full of prizes, surprise balls, and candy and little notes with clues as well.
Each note has a clue written on it to send them on a scavenger hunt to find all of their presents. After opening the presents from their shoes, we eat breakfast together.
After breakfast it is a race to see who can find all their presents first. They are only allowed to get their own presents following the clues. They cannot reveal where someone else’s present is hidden. Once they have found all of their presents, we sit down around the fire and open presents.
It is a morning with lots of laughter as they charge around the house in search of their gifts, often running into each other and always laughing. It has been the perfect solution for us to divide up all of the celebrations and fun over the month, to leave space for their imaginations and to just be together as a family.
What traditions do you enjoy with your family over the month of December?