It is hard to explain my favourite holiday, as it is a typically Dutch one. Sinterklaas is a family event but the most fun as a kid. Yes, I know there are many similarities with Santa, but it is our own Dutch holiday and is very distinct indeed.
Sinterklaas officially starts when Sinterklaas enters the country. Although the candy is in the shops from about August, Sinterklaas doesn’t come until November. He arrivés together with his Pieten on the steamboat. Kids from all over the country are waiting at the harbour to welcome the Sint with his black Pieten. Black, because they are the ones delivering the sweets and presents to your home. They climb through the chimney while Sinterklaas waits on his horse on the roof.
The festivities come with songs to tell Sinterklaas how happy you are that he’s arrived. Furthermore there is a whole set of rules and expectations. Sinterklaas doesn’t just bring you good. If you’ve been a naughty boy or girl, he will take you back to Spain (where he is from) in the big bag that carried the presents for all the other boys and girls. He has a big book that tells him exactly what you’ve been up to.
In the period before Pakjesavond, the night you’ll get all your big presents, on the 5th of December, you can set your shoe near the fire-place. You put in a carrot for the Sinterklaas’ horse and during the night Sinterklaas will come and put something small in your shoe. Sometimes when you are singing songs for Sinterklaas, black Piet will come and throw some special candy in the room. Kids dive towards the sweets and collect all they can find.
According to my Kiwi boyfriend, the candy all tastes like gingerbread. He really can’t resist it. Sinterklaas is a holiday I hope to celebrate with my kids one day. Currently there is a debate within the European Union about black Piet. It is said to be racist. This claim is very upsetting to the Dutch. It is a festival we all take seriously, and nobody can take it away from us. No kid has ever become a racist from celebrating Sinterklaas and we mean nobody any harm. It is a tradition we simply cannot live without.
This post is inspired by the daily prompt: Memories of holidays past