Den Haag

Sometimes there are no words to describe certain photos. You’ll just have to go with me on this one.

Anyway, from Ter Heijde village limits (don’t you love how a windmill will just pop out of a street corner?)…

I said we’d go to The Hague, or Den Haag…

which doesn’t look all that different from any of the countless places I’ve featured in this region at my blog. There are the usual small alleys invaded by American culture–

even if it sounds a bit more exotic in a foreign language,

and then there are the not-so-foreign Chinatown gates that seem to be in every city, large or small:

But a big part of the Dutch landscape is their architectural aesthetic, of which I’m a huge fan, and The Hague’s city hall is but one example:

So that building is a nod to the future, and the Binnenhof, or a complex of buildings that’s home to their parliament, is a tribute to their past. These next photos are of the inner courts of the Binnenhof (I’ll share the exterior shots in the next entry):

Anyway, as I’m walking around looking at the symmetry of the windows, I hear a rush of laughter and some drum noises. I look behind me and there’s a group of costumed people, young and old, short and (very) tall.

All have black painted faces except for the one dressed as St. Nicholas. December 5th marks the St. Nicholas (or Sinterklaas) Day which I suppose is the Dutch equivalent to our Christmas celebration with Santa Claus. The main difference is the European St. Nicholas is typically accompanied by Zwarte Piet (black Pete), hence the black faces you see in these photos.

It’s initially shocking for an American to see black painted faces, but this is part of the Dutch tradition, and Zwarte Piet will find you if you’ve been naughty. St. Nich is the one you want visiting you. These days, all these characters will stroll the town and hand out treats to young and old alike…

OK, here’s a fashion interruption: fake or real Chanel bag :D?

Look closely

Now, where were we? Oh yes, so in those cloth sacs they’re carrying cinnamon-flavored cookies/biscuits and candies shaped like hearts and animals. Of course I got some!

I run into a few more different groups throughout the day, and those cookies get less exciting after the 50th one, so be careful what you wish for.

More pics and stories from this lovely town in the next entry. I’ll leave you with this parting photo. Looks like I got visited by both St. Nicholas and Zwarte Piet. What do you suppose that means?!


  1. Anonymous

    What is this buffoonery? Considering that the Netherlands’ slave trade is very well-known, I find the blackface to be offensive. Surely they can celebrate history without denigrating others in the process…

  2. larkie

    April: so many fake chanel bags everywhere i go…i suppose fake LV and hermes too…

  3. larkie

    jel: hehe, i suppose getting a second red bag would qualify as being naughty?

  4. April

    Fake Chanel for sure.

  5. Jelita78

    They really looked sooo happy to snap pics with u!
    It must be one very friendly community there at hague.
    Thanks for sharing the experience larkie.
    I would never have found out about such celebration.
    So, what naughty things have u done lately? *wink*

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