Image: Jan Havicksz Steen, The Feast of St. Nicholas, 1665-68. Oil on Canvas.
In case you were wondering whether your family was the odd one while everyone else celebrated the holidays with Norman Rockwell serenity, have no fear. For this week’s virtual trip to a museum we go to The Netherlands for Jan Steen’s The Feast of St. Nicholas, to console you that for at least four centuries the peace and love of the holiday season has not always arrived wrapped in a pretty bow.
The painting is in the holdings of the Rijksmuseum. The description from the museum website:
“The feast of St Nicholas takes place in December. In the Netherlands, it has been celebrated in the same way for centuries. Good children receive gifts from the saint. The little girl in the foreground, for instance, has a bucket full of treats. Naughty children, like the wailing boy at the left, get only a switch (a bundle of twigs) in their shoe. Jan Steen was a born storyteller. He succeeded in incorporating all of the elements of the popular feast in this picture.”
We wish you safe travels and lots of smile (and no switches).
If you are in D.C. for the holidays and need to find a restaurant to take the family to, check out our dining guide. We have more than 200 places that you can sort by cuisine, neighborhood, and/or rating! In both MAP or LIST format.