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Sinterklaas - Pakjesavond explained

Pakjesavond or the gift evening

Pakjesavond or gift evening will be celebrated on the 5th of December in The Netherlands! This is the highlight of the Sinterklaas party and on this evening the children receive the most presents. Pakjesavond is celebrated with family or friends, playing Sinterklaas songs.

Sinterklaas and his helpers often come by on package evening to bring a big bag of presents. Usually, they put the bag near the front door or under the window, knock on the window or ring the bell, and then quickly run away. Very occasionally they personally visit the children and answer all their questions in the living room.

People are also increasingly giving each other gifts with poems and nice surprises. Often this is done anonymously to maintain the atmosphere of secrecy. Drawing lots often determines who should buy presents for whom.

Today, the gifts from the bag are increasingly distributed among those present on the basis of a game of dice.

According to Dutch Ready (a handy guide to anything Dutch) Sinterklaas Eve (or pakjesavond) is not only fun for kids. Once the truth has come out and children are notified it was all a lie, the celebration of Sinterklaas Eve often lives on between families and friends in a different form. The fun typically starts weeks in advance, when names are drawn and every person is to create a handmade creative work of art for the person they picked (so-called “surprise”, pronounced as “surpreesah”). The surprise is filled with an actual present inside and is accompanied by a handwritten “funny” poem, for each person to unwrap and read aloud. So yes, some creativity (and time) is needed for Sinterklaas Eve to succeed, but with fun and excitement guaranteed.

Why don’t you get your pepernoten ready for the 5th of December which is just around the corner and make Pakjesavond a part of your festivity traditions!

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