Sinterklaas, (no not Santa Claus…)

Sinterklaas, the Holy Man, is on his way. He is terribly old and old-fashioned. He lives in Spain and every year around the beginning of december he travels up north by steamboat -no he has not yet heard about globalization, he only travels to Belgium, Holland and a part of Germany- to give the kids treats; usually he passes by when they are sleeping. He and his helpers (Zwarte Piet : Black Pete) go on the roofs, the Holy Man on his horse, the helpers on foot, and they go through the chimney to bring the presents and goodies. They only go to those kids that have been good, and who have put their shoe, filled with a carrot and a sugar cube (for the horse) and if possible, a letter to the Sint, in front of the chimney.

Apart from toys, he brings chocolate, marzipan and speculoos, the typical Sinterklaas treats. We have never heard of a dia del niño, the day Argentine kids get a present, but as a kids’ day, this one is definitely a lot cooler!

Although he is supposed to be a kids friend, there does not seem to be an age limit to the people he visits. I think he gave up on me when there was a new generation of kids. My kids. Even in many offices and companies the Holy Man comes overnight and leaves a few goodies for each employee.

Usually the kids don’t know who is actually behind the mysteriously appearing presents until they are 6 or 8. Depending if they are the 1st, 2nd or Xnd child in a family. I eventually had to tell my youngest, because every time she had doubts, every time one of her school friends had told her the whole Sinterklaas-thing is a scam, she asked her big brother who, obviously, always said they were lying and that of course Sinterklaas is real. Probably because, when he found out at the age of 6, we told him that if he tells his little sister, the Sint would stop coming. Of course he didn’t want that to happen…

I thought it quite funny when I was at my sons apartment last month, and his friends -all around their 20s-were discussing wether Sinterklaas would come to their house this year. One said yes, the other no, but when they asked my son he coldly said I dont have a chimney. That is indeed a problem, isn’t it? How does Sinterklaas handle the houses and apartments that don’t have a chimney?

There are a lot of mysteries about the how’s and the why’s, but the Belgian media figure Bart Peters has answered all the questions during his TV shows called  Dag Sinterklaas. His shows became so popular that his answers are now considered the standard answers to all the questions one would have.

Apparently it are the Dutch who took Sinterklaas to the US, where he slowly changed into Santa Claus, with a couple of differences. Santa is not holy anymore, he does not live in Spain, he has no Black Petes, he doesn’t use the chimneys. Also the typical Sinterklaas goodies didn’t survive. But the funniest thing is, that nowadays, Santa is trying to conquer Sinterklaas his territory…

How can he? He is just a fake Sint!!!

NB Sinterklaas is coming on the night of the 5th of December. Unfortunately Sinterklaas doesn’t like flying and his steamboat doesn’t reach very far. I think he doesn’t like the heat either. He will not be coming to Argentina…

11 responses to “Sinterklaas, (no not Santa Claus…)”

  1. Ander groot probleem: waar verberg je de kadootjes tot het 5 dec is? Lara doet vorige week de koffer van de auto open en ziet daar hun pakje (Xbox) liggen. De beste smoes die Koen kon bedenken was: “Dat is voor Eduard!”. Zou de Goede Man dan toch komen waar er geen schoorsteen is?

  2. Mijn grote loebassen (18 en 19 jaar) hebben ook gevraagd wanneer de Sint komt!! Vandaag snoep gaan kopen. Vrijdag komen ze slapen en hun schoen(tje) zetten!!

    • No krampus in Belgium (nor Holland), I actually had to google him. He is sinterklaas his companion in Switzerland, but definitely not in the Low Countries. (I actually think he is kind of creepy).

  3. Sinterklaas, what a nice story. I wonder if he reached the Low Countries on a fluyt or similar before steamboats were invented….lol
    And yes, globalziation can be terrible sometimes…Santa Claus (which seems to be a mashup of this Sinterklaas, Saint Nicholas of Bari, and lots of germanic pagan folklore tales) reaching tropical countries, go figure!

    • The name Sinterklaas comes from Sint-Nicolaas… It seems like kids have been ‘putting their shoes’ ever since the 15th century, which is definitely before steamboat-era! I also wonder how he came then…;-)

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