A good old bishop

Expect a slight delay of the Christmas decoration in some of Amsterdam’s best shops and department stores. The Dutch first celebrate what is believed to be Santa Claus’ precursor: Sinterklaas. And indeed, this mythical bishop bears quite a few resemblances to the frolic Christmas figure.

During the Sinterklaas fest, children leave their shoes near the chimney to find them filled with typical delicacies the next morning. So don’t forget to bring an extra pair of your prettiest shoes to Amsterdam between mid-November and December 5th. They could contain lots of deliciousness when waking up.

Sweets

For instance, you may find them stuffed with ‘speculaas’: a spiced crunchy biscuit. It also comes in nut shaped pieces, called ‘kruidnoten’. Just don’t be surprised to see these sweets flying through the air when you’re in town, since Sinterklaas’ helpers – the Petes- are known for throwing them around. But to be honest, what’s wrong with a biscuit shower?

Also, don’t forget to buy chocolate letters for your loved ones. Sinterklaas likes to give away massive pieces of chocolate in the shape of your initials. The better bakeries and cake shops in Amsterdam sell the most richly decorated sorts, of which some pass as true pieces of art.

Sweeter

And then the sweetest thing: marzipan pieces. Sugar, honey and almond meal are used to replicate figures, foods and shapes. What may seem a fresh apple at the first glance, could be a soft explosion of marzipan sweetness.

A possible relief for the health keepers: Sinterklaas also gives away mandarins. This popular winter fruit will keep you going, at least until Christmas.