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More about Sint
 
Nov
08

Now that Sinterklaas and his helpers are officially here, maybe some of you will be interested to know more about this holiday.

The name Sinterklaas is derived from Saint Nicholas. The history of this saint is shrouded in myth and legends, but is probably based on an actual Bishop who lived in the 3rd’ century in the area which is now Turkey. More about the historical elements of the story follow-http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Nicholas

The Christian traditions mixed with elements from local mythologies and folklore, merged together to create this great holiday.
Nowadays, Sint spends most of his time in Spain. In November every year he embarks on a daring sea voyage in his old steam boat to The Netherlands. He arrives in all Dutch towns and villages, but the largest ceremonies are in Amsterdam and the official national arrival is in a different location each year. The national arrival is broadcast live on TV and viewed by millions.

The Sint arrives with an entourage of helpers – the “zwarte pieten” (black Peters) and his trusted white stud known as Amerigo.

He is met upon arrival by cheering, singing crowds, marching bands and, of course, the local mayor. Sint has a book in which each Dutch child is mentioned with a specification of their good and less good deeds during the year. Children will leave their shoes out hoping for one of the Black Peters to delivers Sint’s presents to them. According to tradition, if a child has behaved badly in the past year he will get a little bag of salt in his shoe instead of a nice present. So since we are a nation of merchants, it can’t hurt to smooth the deal a bit… the children will often leave something nice for the Sint or for his beloved horse (usually a carrot, some hay or a sugar cube).

During the first half of the 19th century the celebrations took the shape similar to present day tradition. At the same time, in another part of the world, the feast of Saint Nicholas took a completely different direction.
New Amsterdam – the original name of what is now called New York - had a large Dutch Diaspora. The Dutch feast of Sinterklaas gained popularity in the new world.
Through influence of folklore and traditions from other immigrant communities and through local evolution, the holiday changed its face. The severe tall bishop Sinterklaas, with his black helpers and white horse, has become a chubby, smiley Coca-Cola drinking elf named Santa Claus, riding a reindeer- pulled sledge.
Sint also moved his residence to the North Pole and to make things more compact became associated with Christmas.

Nowadays, when popular culture is greatly influenced by American (USA) culture, it was just a matter of time before the new American aspect of Christmas – Santa Claus, would make an appearance in the local Christmas celebration. And indeed, today we enjoy the Sinterklaas celebrations until his official day (December 6th’). Then we can start preparing for the arrival of his more heavily built younger brother - Father Christmas (the local name for Santa Claus).

Follow us on Twitter and know when and where the best Christmas markets are, or when to catch up with Sinterklaas as he travels around.

 
 
 
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