‘Sinterklaas’ (Saint Nicholas) is a typical Dutch character loved by children and adults. He is accompanied by his white horse Amerigo and a team of Pieten.
Their annual arrival and parade in Amsterdam mid-November and the festivities until Sinterklaas (poem & gift-giving) evening on 5 December are a true happening. Come and experience it yourself!
Lay your shoe & sing songs with the family!
Once Sint is in town, children lay out their shoe before bedtime around 1-2 times per week. They can put letters and wish-lists to Sinterklaas in their shoe, hoping that there will be a little gift left there by morning. Traditionally the shoe is put in front of a chimney. Along the shoe kids have water and a carrot or apple for the horse.
Kids and their parents usually sing 2 or 3 songs together to get Piet’s attention. See YOUTUBE for examples and text.
Kids are usually rewarded with candies like chocolate letters and pepernoten, a small toy or gift or even a letter back from Sinterklaas brought by a Piet who climbes over the roofs at night and enters the house through the chimney (or the door with a secret key)! Off course Piet takes the drawings, letters and carrots with him.
Poems, self-made surprises and gift-giving on 5 December
Although the feast of Saint Nicholas falls on 6 December, the evening of 5 December is the main gift-giving occasion. Called ‘sinterklaasavond’ (Sinterklaas evening) or ‘pakjesavond’ (presents evening), Sint drops off a sack full of gifts on the doorstep before heading back to Spain on December 6.
Other than with Christmas, the gifts from Sinterklaas are accompanied with poems and/or self-made ‘surprises’!
One by one the presents are unwrapped after reading the poem aloud that have been written especially for each recipient. The author of these light-hearted or year-evaluating poems remains anonymous. The day ends with songs and treats like marzipan, chocolate letters, pepernoten (spice biscuits) and hot chocolate with whipped cream
The legend of Sinterklaas
Saint Nicholas has had close ties with Amsterdam since 343 AD. Legend has is that Sinterklaas originally came from modern-day Turkey as St. Nicholas, the Bishop of Mira, an honorable man who was kind to children. No one really knows why he then chose to live in Spain but historians point to the Spanish domination over the Netherlands in the past.
The medieval attire of Sinterklaas’ assistants, the Pieten, is equally mysterious, leading one to conclude that they must have been stuck in chimneys for an awfully long time. Hence the sooty faces and time-warped costumes.
‘Piet’ is currently subject of debate in Amsterdam and the rest of the Netherlands. The City of Amsterdam is actively facilitating this discussion and is keen to remain in close contact with all concerned parties.
Text inspired on source: http://www.iamsterdam.com/
See also the Sinterklaas Tutorial of www.learndutch.org
Sinterklaas Arrival Parade
Come and meet Sinterklaas, his horse Amerigo and over 350 “Pieten” during his arrival in Amsterdam on Sunday November 17!
For photo’s, please press this link (free of copyrights)
Note for editors: For further information, please contact:
Pam Evenhuis, spokesperson of Sinterklaas Phone: +31.641.878.111 or email@example.com