Monday, November 17, 2008
Last Saturday, Sinterklaas (the Dutch Santa Claus) and zwarte Piet arrived in Hengelo. There was a grand parade around the city center. Extremely excited children were there to welcome him! Yes, it´s that time of year again....
In the next couple of weeks, Sinterklaas will be busy visiting houses.
In the Netherlands, Saint Nicholas or Sinterklaas arrives in a boat from Spain. Together with him are his assistants called zwarte Piet (Black Pete). According to legend, Sinterklaas rides a white horse and travels from rooftop to rooftop; or passes through an open window. His assistants, Black Petes, come down the chimney and give you presents in your klompen (wooden shoes).
So kids set their shoes near the chimney with a carrot in them (for the horse) before they go to bed. (My 4-year-old pupil told me that she also placed a vase of water for the horse! lol) The next morning, they wake up with small gifts and candies if they are good. They get twigs in the shoes if they have misbehaved.
I guess the most interesting part about this Sinterklaas tradition is Black Pete, the helpers. It sounds derogatory ....... condescending even. I must admit that I, too, was distrubed when I heard this word for the first time. Also, these Black Petes are far from being black. They are actually white people painted black! hahahahahaha
But everybody loves Sinterklaas here. So on the eve of his feast day (December 5th), we all celebrate it ---- young and old, Christian and non-Christian. And the good thing about it is that, it is observed without any religious overtones. (Although we all agree about the Christian origin of the tradition. hahahaha)
Posted by Droomvla Labels: Dutch life.