Learn about other holiday traditions at library

  • Thursday, December 5, 2013

It is again the month of December. It seems that the older you get, the faster the wings of time flap. One moment you are ringing in the New Year of 2013 with fireworks and champagne, and the next you are buying the same merchandise to celebrate the beginning of 2014. But before we are able to blow whistles and wear party hats, there are still a few days left in this month, and some are noteworthy. The first ones are Dec. 5 and 6. These are the days many European countries and their former colonies celebrate “Sint Nikolaas also named Sinterklaas (Dutch), Saint Nicolas (French) or Sankt Nikolaus (German).”

The Sinterklaas story I grew up with was about a holy man who was the patron saint of children. In his days he protected the children from harm and made sure that all children were taken care off by providing them with additional food, clothing, etc. And because he lived forever he was able to come every year to celebrate his birthday* with us. But instead of receiving presents he would give gifts to the young ones who behaved nicely throughout the year. He was that legendary creature who rode a “Schimmel” (white horse) on rooftops during the night. He had helpers (piet), who were “black” (at the moment a very controversial topic in the Netherlands), delivering presents and candy through the chimney which landed in the shoes of little children, strategically placed by them before going to bed. These young children still believed that everything was possible.

Later when we were older – and it became harder to imagine a “Sint” dressed in a red cape wearing a miter, riding a white horse on the rooftops accompanied by black “piets,” and delivering packages through the central heating system – our family and many others changed their gift-giving procedures. Names of household members or friends were written down on a small piece of paper and put in a bowl. We would draw a name and buy a small present for this person. The amount of money spent per present was agreed upon beforehand. The present had to be accompanied by a handmade surprise and a poem. Celebrating Sint Nikolaas Day this way meant that the emphasis was more on the handmade craft and the poem, and on spending quality time with your family or friends, than on the present.

Giving gifts on special days other than birthdays is very common and the month of December has its share of these days. Although the library doesn’t have a lot of information about the one I described above, or Boxing Day (Dec. 26) for that matter, there is plenty about Hanukkah (Nov. 27 – Dec. 5), Christmas (Dec. 25) and Kwanzaa (Dec. 29 -Jan 1). Do you need any kind of information such as crafts suggestions, cooking or decorating tips? Check out the library’s extensive collection and make that day a special one.

*Sources are not very consistent. I grew up with the idea that Dec. 6 was Sinterklaas’ birthday. After I did some research I found out that there are different views. It is said that the celebration is about his name day or the remembrance of his passing. I stick with my version; celebrating a birthday is more fun.

Library programs

Reel Club: Book/Movie Discussion Group (adults)

Wednesday, Dec. 11 at 2 p.m.

Read the book, watch the movie with us and then participate in a lively discussion.

Book: “Emma” by Jane Austen

Movie: “Emma.” Rated PG; 121 minutes.

Family Story Times (planned for ages 2-6, but all ages welcome)

Thursdays, Dec. 12 and 19 at 11:30 a.m.

DIY Arts and Crafts with Ms. Grace

Saturday, Dec. 14 from 1:30-3 p.m.

As the weather grows colder, come inside and create a craft with Ms. Grace.

Second Saturday Writing Critique Group (ages 16 and older)

Saturday, Dec. 14 from 3:30-5:30 p.m.

Open to all writers. For more information, call the Reference Desk at 849-6161 or email MtpReference@ccpl.org.

Monday Book Discussion (adults)

Monday, Dec. 16 at 10:30 a.m.

“Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn

Mount Pleasant Cribbage Club (adults)

Tuesday, Dec. 17 at 2 p.m.

Learn to play the classic game of cribbage, or come for a challenging match. No experience necessary.


Mirjam Veldkamp is the Young Adult Specialist at the Mount Pleasant Regional Library Branch (1133 Mathis Ferry Road, 843-849-6161, www.mtplibrary.blogspot.com, www.ccpl.org, like the library on Facebook). Email MtpReference@ccpl.org if you wish to receive a PDF copy of the programs being held each month at Mount Pleasant Regional.

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