Even though we are only days away from being visited by children dressed as ghosts, witches and goblins wanting lots of candy, my mind is already on to the next big holiday in my family. No it’s not Thanksgiving…it’s Sinterklaas!
Being married to a Dutchman has opened my eyes to all sorts of things, like eating mayonnaise on french fries, salty licorice, chocolate sprinkles sandwiches, and Sinterklaas.
So who is this guy any ways?
On December 5th in the Netherlands, children are visited by Sinterklaas (St. Nicholas) and Zwarte Piet (Black Peter). According to legend, Sinterklaas is very rich and lives in a castle in Spain. In mid-November, he travels by steamship to the Netherlands with all of his helpers, Zwarte Piets, and the gifts for the children. When arrives, he departs his ship and travels through the country on Amerigo, his white horse, and all of the Zwarte Piets accompany him.
Sinterklaas wears a long red cape, a white bishop’s dress and a red bishop’s hat. He also holds a long gold-colored staff with a curled top. Sinterklaas carries a big book that tells whether each individual child has been good or naughty in the past year.
Zwarte Piet, has a black face and hands because he enters the house through the chimney. Sinterklaas and his Zwarte Piets usually carry a bag with candy and gifts for nice children, and willow branches used to spank naughty children.
On Sinterklaasavond (St. Nicholas’ Eve), Dutch children and adults alike sing Sinterklaas songs. Tradition holds that children fill their wooden shoes with carrots, straw or sugar cubes for Amerigo, and in return it will be filled with candy, oranges, and pepernoten, a gingerbread-like cookie. Sometime in the evening, there will be a loud knock on the door or the window, and a sack full of presents from Sinterklaas is found on the doorstep, or next to the chimney. Sinterklaas has arrived!
And that, my friends, is why it’s cool to be married to a Dutchman.
(Photos by Teresa Meijerink Photography)