Sinterklaas (a Dutch tradition)

In Holland most people celebrate a feast early December. It is called "Sinterklaas". On the 5th of December Sinterklaas (Santa Claus) and his assistant Zwarte Piet [black Pete] visit Dutch homes and deliver presents to the children.

Sinterklaas really lived about 600 years ago in Turkey. Sint Nicolaas was a rich bishop, who gave money to the poor. Sinterklaas always rides his white horse, called Schimmel, and he is always assisted by so-called Zwarte Pieten; where Zwarte Piet comes from is still a mystery. The black assistants make jokes, do acrobatics and divide candies among the children.

Sinterklaas is an old man with a long white beard, he wears a red costume with golden stripes, a mitre on his head and he also has a golden rod in his hand. Zwarte Piet has a dark skin, curly black hair and wears red lipstick and earrings. Sinterklaas always comes by steamer to Holland in the midst of November and goes back the same way on December 6th. For some unrevealed reason they arrive from Spain, not Turkey. Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet can not be everywhere at the same time, therefore there are a lot of helpers of Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet. These people dress like Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet and are not seldom recognized as "Dad?" or one of the neighbors.

Most people in Holland celebrate Sinterklaas like this:
The little children, who still believe Sinterklaas really exists, leave their shoe next to the chimney with some straw and a carrot (for the horse of Sinterklaas). The next morning they will find a little something or a candy in their shoe. On December 5th Sinterklaas delivers presents to the children, 'personally' or by one of his helpers. The adults celebrate it by giving presents to each other, often wrapped as a surprise and accompanied with a poem.

In Holland the Sinterklaas tradition is (still) stronger than the Christmas tradition, but the last one is taking over gradually every year. More and more people give presents to each other every Christmas. Interested in more Sinterklaas info

Be glad to be out there doing shopping only once, here in Holland we have to do all that shopping twice ;))))

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you
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Joop Giesendanner