Procession of "Sinterklaas"
Scheveningen Travel Blog› entry 5 of 11 › view all entries
In the Netherlands we have besides Christmas and the Santa Claus another children's feast "Sinterklaas".
Sinterklaas (also called Sint-Nicolaas or De Goedheiligman in Dutch and Saint Nicolas in French) is a traditional Winter holiday figure in the Netherlands, Belgium, Aruba, Suriname and Netherlands Antilles, celebrated every year on Saint Nicholas' eve 5 December or, in Belgium, on the morning of December 6th. The feast celebrates the name day of Saint Nicholas, patron saint of, among other things, children.
It is also celebrated in the traditionally Germanic parts of France (North, Alsace, Lorraine), as well as in Luxembourg, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Poland, Hungary, Croatia, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, the Czech Rupublic and in the town of Trieste and in Eastern Friuli in Italy.
In the Netherlands, Saint Nicholas' Eve (December 5) is the chief occasion for gift-giving. The evening is called "sinterklaasavond" or "pakjesavond" ("presents evening"). In the Netherlands, children receive their presents on this evening whereas in Belgium, children put their shoe in front of the fireplace on the evening of December 5, then go to bed, and find the presents around the shoes on the morning of the 6th.
The Sinterklaas feast celebrates the name day, December 6, of Saint Nicholas (280��"342), patron saint of children and sailors.
Sinterklaas has a long red cape, wears a white bishop's dress and red mitre (bishop's hat), and holds a crosier, a long gold coloured staff with a fancy curled top. He carries a big book that tells whether each individual child has been good or naughty in the past year. He traditionally rides a white horse.
" Zwarte Piet," Sinterklaas's helping hand Black Pete, has his origin in the bishop's legendary past. Three small Moorish boys were sentenced to death for a crime they did not commit. The bishop intervened and they were saved. To show their gratitude, the boys stayed with Sinterklaas to help him, tumbling and jumping on rooftops on Sinterklaas night to deliver presents.
Sinterklaas originally had only one Zwarte Piet. The concept of multiple Pieten was introduced by the Canadians when they helped organising the first post-WWII Sinterklaas celebration. Most traditional Sinterklaas songs still mention only one Zwarte Piet.
Sinterklaas and his Black Petes usually carry a bag, which contains candy for nice children and a "roe," a bunch of willow branches used to spank naughty children; in actuality a chimneysweep's broom.
Sinterklaas traditionally arrives each year in mid-November (usually on a Saturday) by steamboat from Spain (even though the bishop was originally from Asia Minor). Some suggest that gifts associated with the holy man such as Mandarin oranges led to the misconception that he must have been from Spain. He is then paraded through the streets, welcomed by cheering and singing children. This event is broadcast live on national television in the Netherlands and Belgium.
Anyway, we ( my sister in Law, my two nephews and I) went on the 15th of november 2008 to the harbour of Scheveningen to welcome Sinterklaas from Spain to the Netherlands. It was a cold morning and we had to wait for quite some time. After that it was time to watch the procession of Sinterklaas in the oldtown of Scheveningen and shopping area "The Keizerstraat". The children had the time of their lives and for a moment they were quite impressed and silent! What a lovely moment that was hahaha