Have you heard of the Dutch “surprise” during Sinterklaas period? It is pronounced “sur-pree-zuh” and it mirrors Secret-Santa (gift exchange) but with exaggeration.

The objective is to create a “surprise” for the person hence SUR-PREE-ZUH. I guess!

Tradition calls for older kids and adults to:
– draw lot to pick out lucky recipient
– buy a present (usually reasonable value or according to a price-cap agreement)
– hand-made an elaborate crafty cloak-wrapper using materials like paper, cardboard boxes, toilet paper rolls, plastic cups, etc.
– stash the purchased present(s) inside this crafty item.
– write a rhyming poem; that reveal the person’s peculiar behavior, deeds or hobbies with much humor, teasing or sarcasm.

Eventually, a final wrapping with gift paper, plastic bag, garbage bag, etc is required to conceal this top secret project. Anonymity is absolutely crucial too.

This present exchange session usually happens among family members on the evening of December 5th, otherwise known as “pakjesavond” (literally ‘evening of packages’) or at your convenience within Sinterklaas period.

It is also a common practice to celebrate Sinterklaas in this manner at school within individual classes. My daughter (10 yrs old) just had her first gifts exchange in her class yesterday. She made a cardboard piano for a classmate who listed playing piano as her hobbies and hid the actual 2 small presents within.

This process is definitely fun and may be stressful. It is the season to show creativity, rhyming ability and sincerity towards that particular person. Anything is possible and only limited by imagination. Google keywords sinterklaas+surprise to check out examples. That’s why the Dutch do not require Christmas celebration after such ornamented gesture.


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