Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Today is St. Nicholas Day. 

 Clay and I have decided to add this holiday to our family celebrations and traditions. We like to give our children gifts on Christmas morning that are from us, because we love them, in imitation of Christ loving us. That's how we roll. However, there is no denying that Kris Kringle is a pretty fun guy, so celebrating St. Nicholas Day on December 6th - recognizing the real man behind the festive red suit - is a nice addition to the Advent season.

Since a large percentage of the St. Nicholas Day festivities come from the Netherlands, we borrow a few traditions from our Dutch neighbors. Including waking up to find Dutch wooden clogs filled with oranges (or cuties) and chocolate coins. Except I forgot to buy the chocolate coins in time, so the kids got chocolate chips and pepernoten cookies. Next year I will do better and remember the coins so we can leave the pepernoten cookies out on Sinterklaas eve, along with a carrot for his reindeer - or big white horse, as celebrated in Holland.

This was my first attempt at making pepernoten cookies. They came out a little hard - as I guess they are supposed to - but go fabulously with milk. Clay and the kiddos apparently love them.

 This recipe is from the St. Nicholas Center website:

Pepernoten (Dutch Peppernuts)
In Holland St. Nicholas visits the children on December 5 accompanied by his faithful helper "Black Peter." He, or a black gloved hand, distributes the peppernoten to the children by throwing them through the door before the arrival of St. Nicholas.
2½ cups (300 g) flour
1½ teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup (75 g) brown sugar
1 egg yolk
4 tablespoons water
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon cloves
pinch of salt
¼ teaspoon anise seeds optional
Knead all ingredients into a soft ball. Butter two baking sheets. Form about 50 marble-sized balls. Place them on the two sheets, so that they are the same distance from each other. Flatten each ball slightly.
Bake at 350º F. (175º C) 20 minutes or until done. The cookies will be very hard, but they will get softer as they get older.
Makes about 50 peppernuts.


  1. We've been doing St. Nicholas day for a few years now, but it sure does sneak up, doesn't it? We have a pair of authentic Dutch shoes that my husband's grandmother actually wore when she came over from Holland as a little girl! I love them. It's sad that we only have two shoes, though. Once Joshua learned he could have more stuff if he had a bowl, he was happy. I'll have to find a solution to that in the future. We also left out cookies and a carrot!

  2. That's really neat to have family shoes passed down! We ended up just buying one pair from Nelis Dutch Village online. I guess we'll have to buy another pair in a year or two for Amelia and future kids, too. =)