Sinterklaas, who doesn't know him?

Hello my loves,

Today I have a blog post for you that is a little bit different than my usual ones. Not a review but just a little piece of writing. I am going to explain what the Dutch tradition called, Sinterklaas is.
Sinterklaas is a Dutch festivity that is a little bit similar to Santa Claus, only on 5 december. On the picture above you see him on his horse and if you look closely, you can see the similarities to Santa. When I was little I always thought Santa Claus was a fake. 
This is how he arrives in Holland, on his steamship 'pakjesboot 12'. Sinterklaas is from Spain, you know. In the fifteenth century the people in Holland placed their shoes on the fifth of december (the day we celebrate 'pakjesavond' (presentevening), and the richer people put money in the shoes for the poor. That money was given out on the sixth of december, the day Sinterklaas died.
According to the legend Sinterklaas was born in Turkey, became the bishop of Myra and died on the 16th of december in 342. Nowadays Sinterklaas comes from Spain but if I am actually no idea why that is. There are three legends about him.
  1. Sint-Nicolaas (his official name) brought three little children back to life after they were killed by a hostler. 
  2. Sint-Nicolaas gave three poor daughter present so that they could marry well.
  3. Sint-Nicolaas saved a child from burning.
I have no idea if these legends are true but they go way back. I learned on school that Sinterklaas was declared holy by the Catholic church which is why he is called Sint-Nicolaas (sint means saint in Dutch). 
This is how he comes on land, this year he arrived in Groningen but he also arrived ones in my hometown. He arrives with his zwarte pieten (zwart=black, piet=a Dutch name), this year there was a lot of discussion if zwarte piet was racist but I do  not believe that. I understand that some people might find it offensive but I do not think that is true. I always learned that he was black because of the chimney. He brings the presents to the children through the chimney and the soot (is this the correct word?) has made his skin black. They are by no means slaves.
After he arrives we place our shoes in front the chimney (or the back door since I do not have chimney) with a carrot, hay and some water for Amerigo (Sinterklaas his horse) in it. Than we sing Sinterklaas songs, otherwise Sinterklaas does not come to visit your house :). The next morning you when you wake up you run downstairs and Sinterklaas has put a present in your shoe. Usually something small like a dvd or something.  Next to the present you usually get some pepernoten and of course the carrot is gone, Amerigo has eaten it. 
On the fifth of december we celebrate pakjesavond. Than Sinterklaas and his pieten walk over the roofs and deliver presents to every household in the Netherlands.Since there are not many chimneys left in the Netherlands he nowadays hides the presents somewhere in the house or places them in front of the door and knocks to let the family know that the presents have arrived.
This how the presents arrive. In a jute sack along with pepernoten, schuimpjes, chocolade muizen and letters.Later more about  the food but first more about the presents. I celebrate Sinterklaas with my family just like most of the Dutch people. My family still has some little boys and girls in there who still believe Sinterklaas exists so we always make a huge play out of it, it is so much fun. We always hide the presents outside the door when we arrive at the home were we celebrate and when everybody has arrived, somebody knocks on the window (were the little ones can not see it) and the frenzy begins. The little ones go crazy and run to the door to see the hidden presents and bring them in. I have quite a large family so we always have a huge pile since everybody buys presents for everybody and it takes quite a lot of hours to get through the pile because all the bigger presents have a poems attached top them.
Now lets move on to the best part of Sinterklaas, the candy. The most famous candy we eat during Sinterklaas is a pepernoot, I do not know the correct translation of this word but it should be something like a peppernut (the brown little balls on the picture) and believe me, they are delicious.
The big letter on the picture is made out of chocolate and it comes in every size, flavour and every letter of the alphabet.  I love the white ones because I just love white chocolate but the ones with milk chocolate are delicious as well.  Other candies we eat during this time a years are tum tums (the colorful sugary balls) and schuimpjes (merengues). The schuimpjes are shaped like a sinterklaas-thing, like a steamboat, presents and carrots and of course we drink chocolate milk as well.
Then on the sixth of december Sinterklaas leaves and goes back to Spain. I already placed my shoe in front of the backdoor and got a dvd in it and on the fifth I will go and celebrate pakjesavond at my grandmothers house.
Before I forget, let me explain the title to you. It is the first line and title of a song. We have quite a few Sinterklaas songs. Here is my favourite.
I hoped you liked reading about this Dutch tradition which is as big as Santa Claus is in the rest of the world here in the Netherlands. I was raised with christianity so I always learned Santa Claus was not real and Christmas was about the birth of little Jezus.

1 comment

  1. I love learning about traditions from other countries so this was a very nice post! I'm amused that he comes from Spain (I'm spanish) haha