Stitching Holiday Traditions with Vanessa Martina

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Lisa Woolfork

Lisa Woolfork is an associate professor of English, specializing in African American literature and culture. Her teaching and research explore Black women writers, Black identity, trauma theory, and American slavery. She is the convener and founder of Black Women Stitch, the sewing group where Black lives matter. She is also the host/producer of Stitch Please, a weekly audio podcast that centers Black women, girls, and femmes in sewing. In the summer of 2017, she actively resisted the white supremacist marches in her community, Charlottesville Virginia. The city became a symbol of lethal resurging white supremacist violence. #Charlottesville. She remains active in a variety of university and community initiatives, including the Community Engaged Scholars program. She believes in the power of creative liberation.


Vanessa Martina

Vanessa Martina lives in The Netherlands with her husband and two boys. She was born and raised in The Netherlands.


Insights from this episode:

  • Christmas in the Netherlands
  • Fireworks in the Netherlands
  • What Christmas was like for Vanessa growing up
  • Christmas at Vanessa’s home
  • Details about Sinterklaas and why her family doesn’t celebrate it


Quotes from the show:

  • “Fireworks are a major topic of discussion every year. Fireworks are forbidden the whole year round in the Netherlands except for New Year’s Eve” —Vanessa Martina in “Stitch Please”
  • “The next big holiday or celebration is Christmas and we have three days of Christmas. We have Christmas eve, we have the first day of Christmas (December 25th) and the second day of Christmas (December 26th)” —Vanessa Martina in “Stitch Please”
  • “As a child, the best Christmases used to be at my grandmother’s house. My grandmother used to demand entertainment from all her grandchildren. We used to have to prepare, a performance was mandatory“ —Vanessa Martina in “Stitch Please”
  • “My kids love Christmas, they really look forward to Christmas. We put Christmas presents under the tree, but we don’t tell them that’s from Santa, it’s from us, the parents” —Vanessa Martina in “Stitch Please”
  • “Sinterklaas is probably the biggest celebration here in the Netherlands. There are books of Sinterklaas, songs that are sung, there are movies of Sinterklaas, toys, all the shops are with Sinterklaas, it’s a huge thing” —Vanessa Martina in “Stitch Please”
  • “So basically, I try to make all the Christmas outfits and New Year’s outfits for me and my children and my husband, and I sew a little bit for things around” —Vanessa Martina in “Stitch Please”


Stay Connected:

Lisa Woolfork

Instagram: Lisa Woolfork

Twitter: Lisa Woolfork


Vanessa Martina

LinkedIn: Vanessa Martina


This episode was produced and managed by Podcast Laundry.

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Hosted by Lisa Woolfork

Lisa is a fourth-generation sewing enthusiast who learned to sew while earning a PhD in African American literature and culture. She has been sewing for more than twenty years while also teaching, researching, and publishing in Black American literature and culture.