Sinterklaas in Alkmaar

Today we went to our very first Sinterklass parade in the town of Alkmaar. We were considered “one of the lucky kids” who got to meet Sinterklaas face-to-face and sing the SinterklaasSinterklaas in Alkmaar Kapoentje song for some Pepernoten. Pepernoot is like a poofed up ginger snap cookie only bite size. I think Sinterklaas was impressed with my dutch as you can see in the photo to the right. David and I had all the right connections for this as our very good friend, Cleo, was also dressed as one of the many Pieten throughout Alkmaar with VIP access to Sinterklaas.

Sinterklaas was the first dutch tradition Cleo had taught my family when she was an exchange student staying with us in Canada 12 years ago! She taught my sisters and I the Sinterklaas song, we placed our boots by the fire and on December 5th we got a chocolate letter, some pepernoten and some other sweets from Holland. This was my first time seeing the actual parade and I know my sisters would have loved it so we caught Sinterklaas arriving on the boat from Spain on camera for you to watch.

Alkmaar CheeseAfter the Sinterklaas celebrations we wandered through the streets of Alkmaar. Alkmaar is Holland’s cheese town with plenty of shops like the one pictured with cheese stacked right up to the ceiling. The cheese market in Alkmaar is known for weighing cheese as early as 1365 right in the center of the town. The center of the town is pictured in the photo featured at the start of the post. Unfortunately the cheese market is a summer only event but on the bright side this just means we will have to visit Cleo and Holland again in the summer months :)

Fireworks 5th of November

Remember remember the 5th of November

Fireworks to celebrate Guy Fawkes? Seems strange to celebrate a man who tried to blow up parliament but the fireworks actually represent all the bonfires that people lit to celebrate the protection of their King. This celebration represents the 17th century grudge the English have on Guy Fawkes and those involved in the Gunpowder Plot. The celebration used to be much more threatening as a reminder to all British citizens the severity of being convicted of high treason, a reminder of how Fawkes was dealt with after being convicted. Parliament established November 5th as a celebration, a celebraFireworks at the Parktion of catching Fawkes. As twisted as a celebration of failure sounds it’s a great show to see! Good thing he was caught and now we have awesome fireworks each year to celebrate as opposed to what we could potentially be remembering.

With so many firework shows taking place throughout the city we decided we would keep it local and went to the one at Millwood Park which was put on by the Tower Hamlets Council Arts & Events Team. The show was amazing and not even painful on the ears to listen to! David and I bundled up in our winter hats, scarves, mitts and jackets to stand out for the display. Each set of fireworks that went off had it’s own song to go along with it. These fireworks started at 7:30 however I have a feeling we will be hearing more go off throughout the night tonight.