Categories
Trip ideas

Celebrating Sinterklaas in the Netherlands

Adults and children alike get all excited when they find out that it is a foreigner’s first time to witness the arrival of Sinterklaas. I don’t know why but every time I see children greeting him, it always brings tears to my eyes.

sinterklaas
Sinterklaas has a spot at our home

Young children have just concluded celebrating Sinterklaas in the Netherlands Last Saturday, Dec 5.

This is my second Christmas in the country and I am still learning how Sinterklaas is celebrated.

Experiencing Sinterklaas is serious stuff! When I was learning the language, our teacher took the time out to give each of us Sinterklaas information.

Adults and children alike get all excited when they find out that it is a foreigner’s first time to witness the arrival of Sinterklaas. I don’t know why but every time I see children greeting him, it always brings tears to my eyes.

Children awaiting Sinterklaas' arrival. Photo by ianus
Children awaiting Sinterklaas' arrival. Photo by ianus

Sinterklaas arrives in the Netherlands by boat, accompanied by his assistants, Zwarte Piet (Black Pete). He departs from Spain and arrives in the country in the middle of November to greet the children. For those towns with no access to boats, Sinterklaas arrives by horse, carriage, motorcycle, the bus or train. He is very creative and will do anything to get the gifts delivered!

Sinterklaas arrives by boot. Photo by Lodewijk B
Sinterklaas arrives by boot. Photo by Lodewijk B

During the weeks that follow, children place their shoes, together with carrots and hay for the horse of Sinterklaas,  in front of the fireplace or these days the door, for them to receive little tokens. This could be tiny gifts or pepernoten.

Presents from Sinterklaas! Yey! Photo by Mabel Ajjam
Presents from Sinterklaas! Yey! Photo by Mabel Ajjam

These are for the good children. The bad children are said to receive a bundle of sticks or a bag of salt. The worst part is that the bad kids are told that they would be carried away to Spain in Zwarte Piet’s sack!

Hey Zwarte Piet, who do you have in there? Photo by Merlijn Hoek
Hey Zwarte Piet, who do you have in there? Photo by Merlijn Hoek

On December 5, Sinterklaas meets the children before he sails back to Spain. Each child gets a surprise present but first Sinterklaas recites a poem specially written for him/her.

Something delicious from Sinterklaas. Photo by ianus
Something delicious from Sinterklaas. Photo by ianus

And to those who would like to watch a sinterklaas movie, check out Het Paard van Sinterklaas! Winky Wong, the cutest little Chinese girl, comes over to live in the Netherlands, learns the language and its customs and traditions. Then she finds out about Sinterklaas — she knows what she wants as a present and does everything to get it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *