Monday, December 19, 2016

Readers Write


From Dianne M in Holland, in response to my post about the Dutch Christmas cultural tradition being akin to child abuse:
Hi Otto 
Loved your story about Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet, I got brought up by the same method. Used to hide under the big kitchen table till they got me out from underneath the table. This went on till the age of 4 when I was told by brothers or sisters that he wasn’t real. In a way I was sorry to hear that because it was exciting and I still go to visit Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet in the shopping centre when he comes there. 
Good childhood memories because we got a big chocolate letter and mostly a book or game, being just after WW2.  This was just wonderful. 
The discrimination story went long and lots of protest this year again so some Councils and shops had colored Black Peters in green , red or just smudges because he did have to go through the chimneys if you remember. But thats not the same and here in Groningen or Friesland province we are more traditional and regardless of the arguments we kept them black. 
Children wouldn’t sleep or would have nightmares so years ago he became friendly and funny and played the clown.  
Zwarte Piet is a happy funny man who gives or throws "Pepernoten" and presents as Sinterklaas `s helper. Or they have 3 or 4 Zwarte Pieten with 1 Sinterklaas doing funny tricks or playing the clown. 
Good memories. 
To You and your family a Merry Christmas and a Great New Year.
Flying "Down Under "on the 3rd of Feb. coming back to Holland on the 10th of April.
Kind regards , take care, 
Thanks Dianne

Zwarte Pet delivers some presents to children who have been good, no abduction to Spain for this lot.

Dutch treats for Christmas

Traditional Dutch Christmas treats include chocolate letters, the most common letter being ‘S’ for Sinterklaas, though the custom is for children to receive the first initial of their name. Also associated with Dutch cultural Christmas tradition is pepernoten, translated as “pepper nuts”, traditionally thrown into the room by the unseen Sinterklaas to show that he had been. The children would then find them.  They are made rye flour, sugar and anise, and sometimes also cinnamon, and clove. They are fairly chewy. There is also a tradition of leaving shoes by the fire with a carrot for Sinterklaas's horse.  Children who have been good wake to find a gift and pepernoten

Things remembered from childhood. Not all the memories are traumatic.

From Tobye P in the US, in response to the following quotation:

Okay Otto-who isn’t allowed to run for Head of State in Australia? Women? Aborigines? Or does he mean it’s unlikely that anyone but a white male would win that office?  
Is he aware that the head of state is already a woman, Queen Elizabeth? Enlighten me, I smell snark but I don’t get it! 
And what kind of idiot would bite into the center of a sausage sandwich!?! The kind, perhaps, that don’t become Heads of State? 
Trivia question-no peeking! Do you know where the hands that are going to Hell in a basket come from?  
W/B when you can, thanks, Tobye  
Thanks Tobye

Australia is a constitutional monarchy, which means that even though we rule ourselves, Queen Elizabeth is the overall ruler, so much so that in 1975 her consiglieri in Australia, the Governor General, sacked the popularly elected government.

Section 1 of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act provides:
It shall be lawful for the Queen, with the advice of the Privy Council, to declare by proclamation that, on and after a day therein appointed, not being later than one year after the passing of this Act, the people of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland, and Tasmania, and also, if Her Majesty is satisfied that the people of Western Australia have agreed thereto, of Western Australia, shall be united in a Federal Commonwealth under the name of the Commonwealth of Australia. But the Queen may, at any time after the proclamation, appoint a Governor-General for the Commonwealth.
Section 1 of Part 1 provides:
The legislative power of the Commonwealth shall be vested in a Federal Parliament, which shall consist of the Queen, a Senate, and a House of Representatives, and which is hereinafter called The Parliament , or The Parliament of the Commonwealth.
The Head of Government in Australia is the Prime Minister. With certain exceptions, anyone can become PM.

The Head of State for Australia is the reigning British monarch, the hereditary king or queen whose focus is on Europe, rather than a country that is part of Australasia.  That is a closed shop.

Just remind me, Tobye, what did you guys do in 1776?

Oh, by the way, the expression "going to Hell in a handbasket" is believed to have originated from the days of the French Revolution when the nobles were guillotined and their decapitated heads caught in handbaskets.

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