I remember when, as a child, Sinterklaas would drop by every year on December 5th. In the weeks prior to this date, we would excitedly watch the windows for Peek-a-boo. Peek-a-poo, the mysterious little elf who spied on us children, deciding who was naughty and who was nice. I’m thinking that maybe our little Peek-a-boo was the precursor to today’s Elf on the Shelf.
Somewhere along the line, our December 5th tradition ended and Santa Claus began showing up at our home on Christmas Day.
Earlier this fall, my daughter found an article about another Dutch tradition; the Chocolate Letter. The Chocolate Letter, available in dark, milk, and white chocolate.
I remember Sinterklaas leaving unwrapped gifts. A small pile for each child, topped with a bowl of candies containing the name of the child. Later, the slip of paper was replaced with a Chocolate Letter.
According to history, receiving letters at Christmas dates back centuries with the original letters being made of pastry. Before gift wrap, parents would cover the gifts with a sheet marking each child’s spot with a pastry in the shape of their initial.
In the beginning of the 20th century, the Dutch chocolate industry began to make letters in chocolate.
During World War 11, supply shortages meant no chocolate and for a period of time the letters were made of gingerbread.
I’m thinking it’s time to reintroduce some of these Dutch traditions back into ours lives. While the Chocolate Letter has always been a part of our Christmas tradition, I think that next year, on December 5th, I’ll be delivering Almond Pastry Letters to some special people.