Sinterklaas in the Netherlands İmsl.no
Holland St. Nicholas is still celebrated ( or Sinterklaas in Dutch). His
birthday was Dec. 6th - and therefore Holland has its huge Christmas
celebration one day ahead ! Maybe it's to be sure he's got time enough for
them, before Christmas ? He arrives on a ship in the middle of
November, are greeted by the Mayor and a lot of people. And it's
broadcasted on TV. He then travels around Holland, greeting children,
visiting schools and handing out sweets and cookies. On December 6th. he
depart on his ship again.
Dutch families are handing out gifts on Des. 5th. Dutch children don't hang their stocking by the fireplace; they leave their shoes there instead. If they have been good, it will be gifts there next morning. If not - it will be a bunch of twigs instead !
They also have a special tradition to leave a "wish-note" in a hat. Everybody draw a note - and are obliged to by a gift for the person, which note one has received.
Moreover the Dutch believe that he's from Spain, (which is completely wrong). This is explained by the fact that Spanish sailors were common in Holland during the 1700 century. The sailors believed in St. Nicholas and told the Dutch people stories concerning him. In Holland they still hold on to the tradition that St.Nicholas is bringing the gifts on December 5th.
Sinterklaas is riding on a shiny, white horse. This is probably due to the Medieval fact that only very rich and very special persons were riding completely white horses.Sinterklaas is very old and therefor has a helping hand from "Zwarte Piet". (Black Peter). His origin is uncertain, but it's thoght that he decends from Medieval Italian chimney-sweepers. That's the way he's dressed. He's face is black, but his clothes are completely clean ! (Maybe they had a super- detergent we don'n know of any more ?) But another explanation tells that he was a black maurian servant who followed Sinterklaas from Spain.
So, in Holland both Catholics and Protestants celebrate two feasts ;
"St. Nicolas" bringing presents on Dec. 5th - and the birth of Christ on Dec. 25.