|Kerststol is the Dutch version of stollen, a dense, leavened Christmas bread with a surprise inside
Many of America’s Christmas traditions can be traced to Dutch culture. The name, “Santa Claus,” is an Americanization of the Dutch, Sinterklaas (Saint Nicholas.) The typical Dutch Saint Nick is dressed in red bishop’s attire and sports a long white beard. He notes whether children have been naughty or nice in his little red book. He rides on a white horse and sends his assistant down the chimney to deliver presents to the good girls and boys. Dutch settlers introduced Sinterklaas lore to New York in the 17th century. Over the years the story spread and evolved until Clement C. Moore brought the American version into clear focus in his poem, “The Night Before Christmas.” The Dutch exchange gifts on Sinterklaas Eve which is December 5th, so Christmas Day is much less frenzied than Americans are used to.
Kerststol is the Dutch version of stollen, a dense, leavened Christmas bread popular in Germanic Europe. Stollen originated in Dresdon, Germany in the 1400’s and was made to resemble the infant Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes. Because of the tradition of holiday fasting and austerity, the church originally restricted the ingredients to flour, oats and water, resulting in a hard, tasteless bread. In 1450, Prince Elector Ernst of Saxony made a plea to lift the ban on butter but was refused by Pope Nicholas V. Five popes later, in 1490, Pope Innocent VIII issued the “butter letter” revoking the ban. Over the centuries stollen has evolved into the rich, nut and fruit filled bread of today with a hidden column of marzipan running through the middle. Here are a few links to recipes: