Friday, December 5, 2008

The Dutch Santa: Sinterklaas

255/365 Sinterklaas

Tonight is "Sinterklaas", the night we Dutchies eat Speculaas, Pepernoten, Chocolate Letters & Schuimpjes, and exchange gifts.

Dutch Children don't believe in Santa, or the "Christmas Man" as we call him here. They believe in Sinterklaas, or Sint Nicolaas. You can probably tell from the name that he has the same origin as your Saint Nick. However, we don't believe he lives in Denmark, or on the Northpole, and he has nothing to do with Christmas.

We believe Sinterklaas lives in Spain, together with his helpers, the "Zwarte Pieten" (Black Petes). There are different stories on why they are black. Some say they used to be his slaves but he freed them and they were so thankful that they stayed with him, but the story I learned when I was little was that they are black because they go down the chimney to deliver the presents.

Every November Sinterklaas takes a trip to the Netherlands on his Steamboat. From then on, kids get to put their shoe in front of the fireplace, with a carrot & some hay for Sinterklaas' white horse. Zwarte Piet will go down the chimney, and replaces the carrot and the hay with a small present. Little did we know that we put the same carrot in our shoe every night ;)

December 5th (or December 6th in Belgium!) is Sinterklaas' birthday, this is when the big presents come! For Children anyway. Adults usually do a Secret Santa type thing, where the gift has to be accompanied by a rhyme, and often a self created something to hide the present in, I always loved making those things, and it was always fun to see what other people would make for you.

Happy Sinterklaas everyone!


  1. What a lovely story, I love to hear all about Christmas in other parts of the world, we have been in France for 4 1/2 years and I still don't get French Christmas except that they eat on Christmas eve very late in the evening and have around 7 courses with a different wine with ever course, we did it once, never again!!!!

  2. I love the Dutch Sinterklaas story. How cool is it that he comes by boat?!?! Enjoy your day!

  3. Oh wow from Spain? That's so cool. I heard Santa used to be green until Coke reinvented him, not sure if it's true though.

  4. Happy Sinterklaas avond from this Dutchy in NY!
    I would love some strooigoed right now.. yummy!

  5. Its really interesting to hear how different countries celebrate their holidays :D

  6. reading your story makes me homesick. And thinking of the speculaas even more :) I remember how exited I always was as a young child on sinterklaas avond when the neighbor (Irealy believed it was sinterklaas himself) knocked on our door and left a big sack full of presents.

  7. Thanks for the memories of my childhood! A few years ago, DH acted as Sinterklaas for his nieces & nephews. His sisters made the outfit. :-))
    It was a lot of fun!



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