surprise Iconspeaker_3
[noun] Surprise
[de sur-pri-se, de sur-pri-ses]

The Dutch "surprise" (pronounced "sur-pree-zuh") is nearly only used in the context of Sinterklaas. Unless you're a "kakker" and speak with a hot "aardappel" in your mouth…then you may want to use "surprise" as a synonym for the far more common "verrassing" (surprise)…and if you really want to overdo it, you can use the French "quelle surprise" 🙂

See Extra for more info on the Dutch tradition of "surprises".

– "Heb jij je surprise al klaar? Zondag is het pakjesavond!" 
("Do you have your Sinterklaas surprise ready yet? It's Sinterklaas' evening of presents on Sunday!")

– "Ik heb echt een onnozele surprise gemaakt voor Frank…dat zal hij echt niet leuk vinden :-)" 
("I really made a silly Sinterklaas surprise for Frank…he's really not going to like it :-)")

– "Mijn beste kerel! Mieters jou hier te treffen, wat een surprise!" 
("Old chap! How swell to meet you here, what a surprise!" Lit.: "My best man!…")

– "Grote ogen opzetten": to be surprised, to be dazed. Lit.: "to put on big eyes".
– "Nou breekt mijn klomp!": I'll be damned! Lit.: "Now my wooden shoe breaks!"

– "Heb jij deze surprise gemaakt?? Nou breekt mijn klomp! Hij is geweldig!!"
("Did you make this Sinterklaas surprise?? I'll be damned! It's great!!")

Related words:
Pakjesavond: Sinterklaas' evening of presents [noun] [de pakjesavond, de pakjesavonden].
– Stomverbaasd: dumbfounded, flabbergasted [adjective].
– Verrassing: surprise [noun] [de verrassing, de verrassingen].

– "Met die stevige wind is het geen verrassing dat de gevoelstemperatuur erg laag ligt."
("With that strong wind, it's no surprise that it feels like temperatures are very low.")

During Sinterklaas time, it's kind of a tradition to have a "surprise-avond" (lit.: surprise night). The "surprise-avond" may coincide with "pakjesavond", but this is not mandatory. A few weeks (sometimes months) before "surprise-avond" there's the crucial part of "lootjes trekken", where all participants draw the name of another participant. It is of the utmost importance not to reveal the name you have drawn, although many try to find out the names that others have drawn. The objective is then to create a "surprise" for the person you've drawn, which consists of three elements: 1. a hand-made object (constructed by using materials like paper, cardboard boxes, toilet paper roles, etc.) 2. a Sinterklaas poem, and 3. a small, funny present. During "lootjes trekken" often a maximum amount is agreed upon, which may be spent on the "surprise". The created object, poem and/or present must preferably apply to a characteristic feature of the recipient. Finally, at the "surprise-avond" everybody opens/unpacks/dismantles the "surprise" that has been created for him/her, reads the poem out loud, and guesses the name of the creator. Because the quality of the "surprises" may vary, a "surprise-avond" may include feelings of both pleasant surprise and serious disappointment, as well as the consumption of alcoholic beverages 🙂


evening of presents [noun] [de pakjesavond, de pakjesavonden]

"Pakjesavond" (literally 'evening of packages'), or "Sinterklaasavond" is the traditional evening ("avond") of "Sinterklaas" which is celebrated at the 5th of December. Since there is only one "pakjesavond", there is no plural.
The tradition is much more than just this evening and you can read all about it at

A "pakje" is a small package. This word is used to indicate a postal package (also "pakket(je)") or a present, especially if it is in the shape of a box. At "Sinterklaasavond", Sinterklaas and his "Zwarte Pieten" deliver presents to all houses (unless the children have been bad 🙂 ), hence the alternative name "pakjesavond".

1. "Voor kinderen is pakjesavond ontzettend spannend!"
("To children pakjesavond is extremely exciting!")

2. "Sinterklaasavond wordt ook wel pakjesavond genoemd."
("Sinterklaasavond is also called pakjesavond." Or: "… is alternatively called…")

3. "Hopelijk slaat Sinterklaas jouw huis niet over op pakjesavond!"
("Hopefully Sinterklaas will not skip your house at pakjesavond!")

4. "Omdat iedereen op tijd thuis wil zijn voor pakjesavond, is het op 5 december 's middags al erg druk op de weg."
("On the 5th of December, already in the afternoon the roads are very crowded, because everybody wants to be at home on time for pakjesavond.")

Related words:
1. "Pepernoot": traditional candy that the "Zwarte Pieten" hand out to children.
2. "Kruidnoot": as in 1. but a different kind.
3. "Strooigoed": mix of candy that the "Zwarte Pieten" traditionally throw in the hall-way, through an open window or where ever possible, prior to delivering the presents. Basically "Zwarte Pieten" can throw candy at you whenever they want in the days leading up to "pakjesavond" 🙂 .
4. "Strooien": to scatter, to throw, to strew.

Read more about Sinterklaas and his "Zwarte Pieten" at .

References to the tradition of Sinterklaas were also made in "DWOTD 36. Kloppen", "DWOTD 72. Waaien" and "DWOTD 73. Hart".