A Conversation for An Introduction to Christmas Traditions

Santa Claus / Sinterklaas

Post 1


We have a traditional feast in The Netherlands in the eve of december 5th.
It is called "Sinterklaas-feest" and according to the Sinterklaas story, we make children to believe that Sinterklaas lives in Spain with his helpers, and he uses a boat to come to Holland.

So in November hundreds Sinterklazen arrive on their white horses in our "entire kingdom".
And children are so eager to believe it all, that they all think that the one and only has arrived in theír town. Or they don't want to realize "problems" at all.

Sinterklaas arrives at November 15th and happens to travel always on his white horse at the roofs of the houses smiley - smiley and his helpers bring their gifts through the chimnies. So the children take one of their shoes and put it around the chimney in their home. That all happens from about 15 November, twice a week.
So the story will be changed by their parents and kids can put a shoe in the supermarket or/and in their home at the inside door. Their fantasy will help them that everything is possible.

But most houses don't have a chimney any longer.
So parents have to change the story so it fits within their circumstances.

The 5th of december is the real exciting day.
Many parents hire a Sinterklaas with some helpers who behave a little like comedians.

Having arrived in the living room Sinterklaas tells the children special things "he has heard about them" from his helpers....

When all children (and family members) have heard the messages from Sinterklaas he leaves the house and leaves behind a big sack that is loaded with surprise gifts. His helpers brought it with them at the arrival at their home.

For that event at dec. 5th, everyone should have written an easy poem that describes some "shady things" of the person to whom it is directed.
Ususally the poem is part of a surprise gift.
First the poem has to be read out loud and after that it's time to open up the surprise gift.

The poem has the same message as the packed up surprise gift, but withín that packaging there is always a real gift. That all happens when Sinterklaas has left their home.

I personally have really warm memories about it from my childhood and the times my own four daughters were very small. Now they are in their twenties, but every year they celebrate it, which is not unusual. Adults keep doing it in the same way as the children do it, but don't hire a Sinterklaas.

I believe that "Santa Claus" is a direct copy of this ancient Sinterklaas feast in The netherlands.
But, since 1990 we see more and more Santa Clauses in the streets, but
it will not push aside the old traditional "Sinterklaas".
Christman becomes more and more packed in gifts and glitter, but it does not put Sinterklaas away any longer.

greetings from Amsterdam

Santa Claus / Sinterklaas

Post 2

Sho - employed again!

But Santa Claus is surely only a corruption of the name Sintaklaas? (corruption only of the name, of course)

Since Saint -> Sinta -> Santa (who is American, isn't he?)

and Claus, is just a shortening of Nicholas - who was the original child-friendly Bishop (in what is now Turkey?)

The Gruesome Twosome were scared out of their wits about 7 years ago when St Nikolas turned up at our door, complete with 4 blacked up helpers rattling chains. So badly scared, that the 5 month old #2 had to be put in her room, and the 18 month old #1 actually closed the front door - leaving me and the bemused Nikolas outside with no key...

Santa Claus / Sinterklaas

Post 3


rattling chains, thats not what zwarte piet's supposed to do! Zwarte Pieten (plural) are the reason that everey child gets his or her presents! Sinterklaas himself hardly has the time to do it all. Zwarte Pieten are supposed to take the bad kids in a bag to spain, where they also become zwarte pieten (or something worse happens to them, dunno). Zwarte Pieten give "pepernoten" or gingernuts to good and nice children... And on Sinterklaasavond the parents have to find a way to leave the presents in a way that suggests that sinterklaas has indeed dropped by. Presents are placed in a bag (the bag of sinterklaas) and hidden somewhere in the house, or a gardenshed...but findable for the children who will have to search them.

Sinterklaas was indeed the bisshop of Myra, in turkey nowadays and gained his childfriendly reputation by reviving three children who were placed in a barrel by an evil relative. His helpers, zwarte pieten look and act similar to American "Black Faced" actors. (Sinterklaas is the only time that this stereotype is shown and not frowned upon)

Ofcourse children are learned that Sinterklaas really exists and that Santa is just a commercial from Coca-Cola... But sadly Santa is gaining more and more influence here...

Santa Claus / Sinterklaas

Post 4

Sho - employed again!

well, mine weren't Zwarte Pieten - although I was only about 5 kms from the Dutch border at the time, and the place where I was living did have a lot of Dutch influenced traditions.

To be honest, I'm not sure of the significance of the chains, and the poor fellows looked freezing!

Nikolaus was great though, in full Bishop regalia, very solemn, but with a nice twinkle. Pity the kids missed out on it!

Santa Claus / Sinterklaas

Post 5


Arrival in Amsterdam, 2006,

On a Sunday in the middle of November, St. Nicholas, known as in the Netherlands, arrives in Amsterdam. Around 11:30 am the steamboat from Spain docks by the Central Train Station across from . Deafening salutes and ringing church bells fill the air, as the mayor welcomes the good before he mounts his white (or gray) horse. The fun begins at noon with a big parade: Sinterklaas accompanied by many , brass bands, beautiful floats, officials in cars, and colorful groups of jesters, cycling clowns, and more. Thousands of pounds of sweets and have been put in burlap sacks for the acrobatic to throw to the crowds lining the streets. The parade winds along the Damrak to the Rembrandtplein coming to an end at the Leidesplein. Here, around 2:15 pm, from the balcony of the city theatre, the Stadsschouwburg, Sinterklaas addresses crowds of children and their parents.
Thus begins "Sinterklaas Season" when Sinterklaas and his helpers travel around the country, visiting hospitals, schools, shops, restaurants, and even homes during the three weeks before the main Sinterklaas celebration. and his Piets seem to be everywhere at once, asking about children's behavior and listening through chimneys. The children leave their shoes out with carrots and hay for the horse. In exchange the Piets put candy or a small gift in the shoes to be found in the morning.

End quote.

S't Nicholas around the world

Post 6


Quote; In many places St. Nicholas is the main gift giver. His feast day, St. Nicholas Day, is December 6, which falls early in the Advent season. Some places he arrives in the middle of November and moves about the countryside, visiting schools and homes to find out if children have been good. Other places he comes in the night and finds carrots and hay for his horse or donkey along with children's wish lists. Small treats are left in shoes or stockings so the children will know he has come.

Where St. Nicholas is prominent, his day, not Christmas, is the primary gift giving day. Parties may be held on the eve, December 5th, and shoes or stockings left for St. Nicholas to fill during the night. Children will find treats of small gifts, fruit or nuts, and special Nicholas candies and cookies. St. Nicholas gifts are meant to be shared, not hoarded for oneself.

Customs Around the World smiley - smiley

See; http://www.stnicholascenter.org/Brix?pageID=76

Greetings from Amsterdam

Santa Claus / Sinterklaas

Post 7


Well, I expected that the link álso described the Christmas traditions,
but they don't.
So, it's rather off topoic.

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