Thursday, December 01, 2005

Santa's little helper

Yesterday i did some Sinterklaas (Santa) shopping. It was terrible. The city was crowded with thousands of Sinterklaas shoppers and of course I couldn't find what I wanted or it was sold out!
Because Sinterklaas is a typical Dutch tradition I will try to explain how it works...

About 700 years ago there was a man called Nicolas living in Mira, Turkey. He was a good man and one day he heard about three sister who wanted to marry but their parents didn't have the money for the dowry so they couldn't. One evening Nicolas (Klaas in Dutch) went to their home and when everyone was a sleep he threw 3 sacs of money through the chimney and made the girls very happy.
After he died he became a Saint, so Saint Nicolas or Sinterklaas.

These days children are told that Sinterklaas lives in Spain with his helpers in a secret castle. He's more than 700 years old. His helpers are called Zwarte Pieten (Black Pete's) and they bring all the presents to the children. They are black as soot because they climb through chimneys all the time to get the presents in the houses.
On december 5th. we celebrate Sinterklaas birthday and all children (and a lot of adults :)) get presents. Sinterklaas arrives in the Netherlands about 3 weeks before his birthday on a steamer all the way from Spain together with his helpers. In the weeks before december 5. the children can put their shoes at the fireplace, or chimney (or if they don't have one at the front door) every couple of days. They have to sing some Sinterklaas songs and in the nights Sinterklaas rides on his white horse over the roofs of the houses with his helpers and leaves a little present in the shoe. Sometimes the children leave a drawing, a wishlist or carrots for Sinterklaas' horse in their shoes and of course this is gone in the morning.
The helpers always carry a big sac along that is filled with tiny little cookies and candies of wich they trhow a handful on the floor when they enter a room.
At Sinterklaas evening the families sit together singing Sinterklaas songs, drinking hot chocolate and eating traditonal pastry and candy, like pepernoten, speculaas and banket (yummy). They wait for Sinterklaas or Zwarte Piet to come and bring a sac filled with presents. To make it complete every single present should have a poem going along telling something about the receiver of the present. On the 6th. of december Sinterklaas leaves back home to Spain to hide in his castle until next year...

Ok, hope it was an understandable story, it's hard to explain in english because there are so many typical Sinterklaas words that don't have an english translation.

Anyway... today Marlijn is one of Sinterklaas little helpers.
I bought her Zwarte Pieten cloth and she carries a sac with pepernoten, the cd-player is filling the house with Sinterklaas music...

Doesn't she look adorable and aren't these kind of holidays fun???

Have a great Sinterklaas weekend!!


Blogger Karen (Cupcake) Carter said...

Thank you!!! I am so glad you posted this! I loved reading it and can't wait to add the tradition of leaving shoes on December 5th by the fireplace. I think that will be our official "kick off" to Christmas every year. Your blog entry was so helpful and inspiring to me. Growing up we celebrated St Nicholas' day by getting a bag of fruits and nuts and candy left at the doorstep in the evening. (We didn't have a fireplace.) I'm not sure why my parents let that tradition slip away. Glad to bring it back for my boys! THANKS A MILLION!!!!

5:15 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

OMGosh, how incredibly adorable!!!! I love it.

5:57 PM

Blogger plualum said...

She is just precious! Thanks for sharing the tradition!

10:18 PM


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