Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sinterklaas & Christmas in the Netherlands

Here is the Netherlands, as in much of the world, Christ seems to have been forgotten in the celebration of this season that bears his name. The world throws a big party for his birthday, but Christ is not invited to come. That seems very wrong to us. One of the other senior couples shared these thoughts with us: "---but the sad thing is that the real meaning of Christmas seems to be lost. There was a survey taken last year and 60% of the population of the Netherlands had no idea of the real meaning of Christmas. This is a sad commentary of the state of faith in the people here. It reminds me of the scripture in 2 Nephi 2: 8, "Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah…" At least they separate much of the gift giving by having Sinterklaas come on Dec. 5th. The night before the children will put their shoes near the fireplace or a heater. They will have a carrot and some hay for the white horse that Sinterklaas rides. The next morning the carrot, and hay are gone and a small present and some candy is left. Then on the night of the 5th, there will be a knock at the door and the parents and children will open the door to find a bag full of presents that has been left by the good holy saint. Dec. 25th and 26th are days of celebration and feasting, with very little religious importance. There are always the Christians who do remember the true meaning of Christmas. Next week the citizens of Gouda will be going on a walking tour of churches, including ours. They will visit the various churches and at our building there will be displays and a free DVD, "Joy to the World". We look forward to this special season, and wish you all much happiness. We have three baptisms scheduled here in our Ward on December 27th. They will be a great conclusion to the better part of the holiday.

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