Chronicling my Saint Nicholas experience because I can pt. 2

How to replace one kind of fun with a different one, but then it keeps on changing.

Young adulthood Saint Nicholas – Now you need to actually put in some effort yourself

The good:

Finally you take the reins. Saint Nicholas is something you not only celebrate with family anymore but your friends get involved. You get double the fun and may actually start to recreate some of the excitement. Of course part of the fun is getting some weird gifts that you do not need. All those times your family did not give you all those useless things, your friends are sure to help you with that. And so long as you do not every year get the excuse “I really had no time to make something better” accompanied by a raffle box, there should definitely be some memorable unpacking moments that will be commented upon for years after.

The bad:

Transitioning into adulthood is just hard, period. There is so much disappointment hiding behind each corner and the same counts for celebrating anything with friends. If you do not have too many people complaining about their inability to write poems, then you may be limited by your own crafting skills. If it is not your own crafting skills, there are bound to be some others who just do not prioritize this highlight of the year. And finally, life tends to get in the way of these celebrations and you may need to start planning 3 months on forehand, only to have to then cancel it a week on forehand because nobody has the time or energy for it.

Saint Nicholas abroad – A lesson in Dutch culture

The good:

This is the moment for Dutch culture to shine! Forget about the fact that we do not really have any food culture or a national dance. You finally get to tell about this very peculiar and special Dutch tradition. It is all good fun and you get to show others something completely new. Experiencing familiar things in a completely new situation will most definitely also get you to appreciate everything again. Yes it was loads of fun as a kid and no it is completely different from Santa Claus. The commercialization and merchandise of Saint Nicholas will seem far more benign in your head, especially because Christmas is just decorations in many non-Western countries.

You can have fun finding out if you can make some of the snacks yourself, or where to buy them, or strategically ask someone early enough but not too early to bring or send them. You will appreciate even the most basic of snacks, and may point at every chimney to remind everyone that they missed out on something great. Those poor kids.

The bad:

Foreigners will interpret everything differently. It is the moment that you will take off the rose-tinted glasses and suddenly be presented with knowledge about certain aspects you were ignorant about as a kid. You suddenly realize things are not as natural as they seemed to you. How black does one get by coming through the chimney? Why did we once think it was unproblematic to paint our faces that color and put on these wigs? And why is it always white old men bringing around these gifts and showing off their benevolence? Most importantly, the horse would explode if it ate all of the hay and carrots kids put in their boots.

And once the scales fall from your eyes, it is easy to see how much hubris is left now. There is police regularly for a children’s celebration and families can get split over such a logical development. And once you start comparing your own celebrations with those in other countries, they may seem not seem so magical anymore. Why do we not have moon bunnies that make rice cakes? Or have a selfish trickster in the form of a spider?

Thus, there is nothing like a new perspective to make you realize traditions just do not make sense. And that even though they change, it only makes it more difficult to explain to others. But that is part of the process and keeping it alive.

So is real adulthood going to ruin this even more? Probably yes. Maybe not.

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