Oud en Nieuw (Old and New)

OMG am I really almost a month late on this one?  I really wanted to get that anniversary entry up and it ended up being quite the bear, taking me a solid week to write and then of course, some shiny object distracted me and here we are, almost a month into the new year.

It’s hard to believe that we are already into 2015.  There’s no sugar coating that 2014 was a bad year. I’m glad it’s over.  I know it’s just a number and any day, month or year can be not so great, but 2014 was just terrible as far as years go.  But it was also eye opening to me.

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Sinterklaas Visits the Marcus House

While there are many benefits to living abroad, one that our children have done their “best” to embrace is as many holiday traditions as possible.  I truly think this is because they think it will garner them more presents over the course of the holiday season!

In Spain, in addition to our traditional American Santa Claus, we also had our caga tio (http://megustatuzapatos.blogspot.nl/2010/12/our-new-catalan-christmas-traditions.html) who would “poop” presents for them on Christmas Eve, and the Three Kings.  We didn’t focus much on the Three Continue reading

Dutch Fall Traditions

While I know that this does not cover everything that happens here in the Netherlands in the fall, I’ve started to compile a list of things that we’ve noticed so far – most of which we are thoroughly enjoying. I’ve no doubt I’ll be adding more to the list as we learn about more and more traditions here in the Netherlands.

Sint Maarten
As I mentioned in an earlier blog entry, Sint Maarten is the patron saint of the poor and of children. Similar to Halloween, kids go door to door singing a song about Sint Maarten and Continue reading

The Tale of Sinterklaas

Did you know that Santa Claus is not the original Saint Nick?  Nope, he’s not.  The Dutch Sinterklaas beat him to it.  In fact, it was the Dutch who brought the tale of Santa Claus to the US (as Sinterklaas which was then modified over time) back when New York City was New Amsterdam. And get this, everyone celebrates him, no matter what their religion.  He is a patron saint of children – it does not matter what their belief system is, he gives to all.

Both Santa Claus and Sinterklaas are based off Nikolaos of Myra, a Greek bishop known for secret gift giving.  He became Saint Nicholas around the 4th century.  Like our American Santa Claus, Continue reading

Sint Maarten Day

With just about 3 months under our belts here in the Netherlands, we’re now at our first Dutch holiday. Sint Maarten.  Almost identical to Halloween (and comes only days after we celebrated the American goodness of that holiday), we were excited to start learning more about the traditions celebrated here in our host country.

Sint Maarten is celebrated in much of Europe and in a variety of ways.  No matter the country, the origin is the same.  Sint Maarten is considered to be a friend of children and to the poor.  Celebrated since around the 4th century, the legend that is most famous is that Sint Maarten cut his cloak in half during a snowstorm in order to help clothe a homeless man.  As he died on November 11th, this is why Sint Maarten is celebrated on this evening.  In older times, Continue reading

Halloween in the Netherlands

While the increasingly cold weather is not one of my favorite things, I do love fall.  And I love it for several reasons.  The foliage, breaking out the jeans and cozy sweaters after a long, hot summer, apple pie, soups and the start of fire season (the last 5 years of which we didn’t have or need a fireplace and now we have one but it doesn’t work).  But what I really love is the start of the holiday season, starting with Halloween.

I’ve always loved the holidays but living in our neighborhood in Attleboro, Continue reading

Our Favorite Barcelona Traditions

As our time in Barcelona is coming to a close, I can’t help but take note of the things I have grown to love and appreciate here.  Every culture has certain traditions – some have been around for hundreds, if not thousands of years… others, perhaps a generation or two.  One of the perks of living in Europe is that it’s full of traditions, many of which are older than the United States itself.  As it’s these traditions that make me smile (most days) as we go about our daily lives, I thought I’d share a few of them with you. Continue reading