Sinterklaas gedichten and how to survive the season

Back in the days when songs actually had more than one or two repetitive phrases, repeated over a dreadful electronic beat, there were people known as musicians. (Look it up on Google if you’re not sure what that means). They would perform on songs, one of which springs to mind was by a lady called Gloria Gaynor, that started with the line,  “first I was afraid I was petrified”. Which brings me to the subject of today’s post, how to survive your first Sinterklaas season in the Netherlands and how to write mooie Sinterklaas gedichten.

To those expats in a relationship with a Dutch partner and about to celebrate your first Sinterklaas in the Netherlands, the Shallow Man feels your pain. As with the charter of the BBC, the purpose of my site is to educate, inform and entertain.

In the past, I have educated expats about stuff Dutch people hate. Informed them about how to fit into Dutch society and entertained with stuff Dutch women hate.

As the Shallow Man has walked the well-worn paths that many expats will go through in the coming weeks, I felt that I should provide some essential tips on how to survive your first Sinterklaas season in the Netherlands. Now, this post might upset some, and if as a result I’m rounded up by a group of angry Dutch nationalists and forced to listen to the music of Afro Jack and Armin van Buuren for twenty-four hours straight as punishment, I’ll say to my enemies. “Daarom hebben jullie xtc nodig. Om naar die waardeloze muziek te kunnen luisteren”./”That’s why you need xtc, to listen to the worthless so-called music”.

The things I do for my readers!

The Sinterklaas drug deal

Any day now, you’ll be with the family of your Dutch partner, listening to them criticising Quinsy Gario, when suddenly they’ll start handing out folded pieces of white paper. These might look suspiciously like wraps of crack or cocaine. Don’t be alarmed, you’re not about to be indoctrinated into a traditional Dutch drug taking ceremony (otherwise the wraps would contain xtc).  Written on the paper will be the name of the family member that you have to buy a Sinterklaas present for. Leuk! No expense is spared here, some families have been known to set as much as twenty euros in determining the value of the present that is to be bought.

Things not to do

Don’t shout out “Oh Jeroen, I have to buy you a present”.  The idea is that the name of the recipient should remain a secret known only to you until the day the presents are handed over.

If the recipient of the present happens to be your Dutch mother-in-law, don’t whatever you do, buy her sex toys of any kind. Dutch women, in general, tend to have a collection of such things that outclasses the average sex shop quite considerably. Buy them something they are unlikely to own already. For example, if the present is for a Dutch woman, a hairdryer, or if it’s a Dutch guy, a pair of bulls testicles (to symbolise courage needed in dealing with his wife/mother/lover etc).

Christmas gifts for your Dutch partner

Don’t waste your money, she has this already

Who knew that Sinterklaas loves Rap?

As Sinterklaas runs around with a posse of gentlemen (and ladies) of colour, the next part of the tradition makes perfect sense.

Sinterklaas gedichten

As well as buying a present for the person named on the piece of paper you’ll also have to compose a poem, a Sinterklaas poem for them as well. You might be thinking ‘how am I expected to write Sinterklaas gedichten for members of the family? What if I say the wrong thing and commit a major social faux pas?’ Fear not dear expats as the Shallow Man will provide you with several examples of typical Sinterklaas gedichten that can be used for every member of the family. Feel free to reuse as you wish. This truly is a case where I will say “the things I do for my readers!”.

For your partner’s father

When you first saw me, you nearly had a fit,

I said to my partner, what’s wrong with the miserable old git?

He said, no need to worry as such,

He’s just annoyed that you’re not Dutch,

So my teeth I did grit, and I thought, whatever you think of me I really don’t give a sh*t

Happy Sinterklaas

For your partners Oma

Like bacteria on a doner kebab, you continue to thrive,

It’s a credit to the Dutch health system that you’re still alive,

Sometimes I wish you’d wash more often as you do reek,

About offending you I’m not worried as my language you pretend not to speak,

I can’t think of anything else to make this poem rhyme,

So I’ll close by saying I hope that for celebrating Sinterklaas with you it will be the last time

For your partner’s mother

You often remind me, that my Dutch is pretty rotten,

Yet you speak English as if a dog is biting your bottom,

My partner loves your cooking, he says he could eat it every day,

Yet I’m sure that prisoners get better food at Guantanamo Bay,

Happy Sinterklaas Moeder!

For your female Dutch partner

Being with you is such a rush,

Even though your hairstyle reminds me of a toilet brush,

If a favourite part of you I had to choose,

I’d struggle with the leopard skin leggings or the dangerously flat shoes,

I’m so happy that we are going steady,

Especially as with the way you dress, it only takes you two and a half minutes to get ready

leopard skin leggings

Anouk in her majestic leggings

For your male partner

In Dutch, to be happy means to be blij,

I love how when I say jump, you say how high?

I can be demanding, even a real pain,

Yet you do whatever I tell you and never complain,

It’s like I said to one of your Aunt’s,

It’s so good to have a man that lets me wear the pants

A happy Dutchman at home helping around the house

The Sinterklaas Intocht

If you’re really lucky, you’ll be invited to attend a Sinterklaas Intocht, an official ceremony that welcomes Sinterklaas to the Netherlands.

Things not to say during the Intocht

Don’t make any jokes such as “wow, this must be the only time that Europeans are happy to see a boat full of black people entering their country”

“I’ve never seen a group of black people dance so badly, something fishy is going on here”

“If they are black from going down the chimney, why are they black when they arrive on the boat? Surely they should be white and then go black on the 5th of December”

Things to say during the Intocht

“Gezellig!” “Wat een leuk kinderfeest en traditie”

“All of the black people I know (both of them) have no problem with Zwarte Piet at all”

“How can anyone possibly say that the Piets resemble black people, they are not footballers or rappers, kom op nou!”

things to do in 24 hours in Amsterdam

I’m pretty relaxed about Zwarte Piet, he’s no more offensive than I am

getting a tan in my last 24 hours in Amsterdam

Anouk couldn’t date a real black person but was proud to be with an almost Zwarte Piet


Acceptable immigration in the Netherlands (especially as they leave on December 6th)

No sweet oma’s were hurt during the writing of this post.

Until next time,  “rot op naar je eigen land!!!” Copy and paste this into any complaints that you plan to send me.