Christmas in the Netherlands Ideas for the Classroom

Prettige Kerstfeest (Merry Christmas)! Another way to say Merry Christmas in Dutch is Vrolijk Kerstfeest.

Christmas in the Netherlands Poster (KidsSoup members)

In the Netherlands, Santa Claus is known as Sinterklaas. He differs in appearance from Santa Claus in that he is tall and slender, wears a dark red robe and a hat similar to a bishop's attire, and is often portrayed as elderly with a long, white beard. Tradition goes that Sinterklaas sails from Spain to the Netherlands on December 5 where he trades his ship for a horse.

Preschool Activities: 

On this day, just as children in the United States often leave treats for Santa Claus's reindeer, children in the Netherlands often fill their clogs or shoes with hay and carrots and place them by the fireplace or windowsill for Sinterklaas's horse in hopes that the treats will be exchanged for some sweets.

Fill Clogs with Hay and Carrots Activity (KidsSoup members)

Children are told that during the night Sinterklaas rides on his horse on the roofs of houses with his Zwarte Pietan (servant) who climbs down the chimney or through a window and leaves presents and/or candy in their shoes. Sometimes Sinterklaas makes an appearance in the children's homes where he questions them about their behavior the previous year.

Sinterklaas Letter Recognition Game (KidsSoup members)

The Legend of St. Nicholas

The Story of Saint Nicholas Online Book

Sinterklaas Puppet Craft and Rhyme

Free Sinterklaas Coloring Page

On the evening of December 5, called sinterklass avond (Sinterklass evening) or pakjes avond (presents evening), Sinterklass parties are often held. Gifts are hidden and children are provided poems and riddles with clues as to where to find the presents. Special biscuits and sweets are served at the party. One type of biscuit served is called a banketletter (meaning letter cake), which is made of marzipan or pastry. It is called a letter cake because the biscuits are made in the shapes of the first letter of the people who at the party. Another sweet biscuit eaten at Sinterklaas parties is pepernoot which is made with cinnamon and other spices.

Banketletter (letter cakes)
Provide children with some store bought bread stick dough and let them form their inital letter of their name with the dough. Bake the letters as per instructions. Spread some melted butter on the letters and let children sprinkle colored sugar on top. 

Presents are also given on December 6, which is called St. Nicholas's Day. One custom in schools on this day is each person's name is put in to a hat. Then, everyone picks a name from the hat. Each person gives a surprise present to the person whose name they chose. The presents are usually something useful that the person can use and are often accompanied with a poem with a clue as to who gave the present.


Book Suggestion: The Baker's Dozen: A Saint Nicholas Tale (15th Anniversary Edition, with Bonus Cookie Recipe and Pattern for St. Nicholas Christmas Cookies)

Christmas Day is a quiet day in which people go to church and religious concerts. This day is time for family gatherings and delicious meals consisting of roast goose, roast pork, vegetables, and homemade breads, including currant buns and stollen (rich breads made with fruits and nuts).

Sinterklaas Ideas and printables from all around the World:

Sinterklaas memory cards printables

Sinterklaas coloring page


View more preschool and kindergarten Christmas activities and craft


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