- Holidays and Celebrations
sinterklaas comes in december
Children's Feast on 6th of December
If I'm thinking of celebrations in the month of "December"?
There are of course a lot of celebrations I love in this cold winter months, especially in December, but also in January. First of all there are several "birthdays" to celebrate: my son's in December, mine and my daughter's in January, but also a lot of other family members are celebrating their birthday in those months.
But December is special for me, because of two special celebrations.
Of course, there is the period of Christmas around 25th of December. Christmas days are special for me, because they are for me the best idyllic possibility to be together with the family members, and to share with them warm family days.
But there is also another "special celebration" on 6th of December, what means a lot to all the children. It's the Celebration of Sinterklaas, a celebration, what isn't so familiar or known in other countries of the world, because it's a typical celebration in Belgium, Northern of France, the Netherlands, and a little bit also in some former Dutch Colonies (South Africa, Aruba, Suriname, CuraÃ§ao, Bonaire, Indonesia) if the people are Catholic.
"Sinterklaas" is de best-known name, but they also use: "de Sint", or "de Goedheiligman" (Good Holy Man). The name originally refers to "Sint Nicolaas", or "Saint Nicolas", who is a "Saint", celebrating his "name day" on 6th of December (already the evening of 5th of December).
"Sinterklaas" is the patron saint of children. So "Sinterklaas" has a Roman Catholic background, because Sint Nicolaas was the Greek Bishop of Myra. In Spain he is also the patron of sailors, so until today, in the Netherlands it's a custom, Sinterklaas always arrives in a boat or steamboat. Also because of that, people tell the children, "Sinterklaas comes from Spain". Sinterklaas is always assisted by helpers with "black faces" dressed in colorful Moorish dresses, called "Zwarte Pieten" (Black Petes). So the symbolism in this celebration is: the good will be rewarded; the bad will be punished.
But the celebration of Sinterklaas has a long historical story, with an evolution from century to century. So this lens is only a short summary of a long historical tradition.
The figure of Sinterklaas is mostly an elderly, stately and serious man, with long white hair, and a full long beard. He wears a long red cape over a traditional white bishop's alb, on his head a red mitre, and he holds a gold-coloured crosier, a long ceremonial shepherd's staff with a fancy curled top and also has a ruby ring. He carries the big book of Sinterklaas, that tells whether each individual child has been "good or naughty" in the past year. He traditionally rides a white horse.
Gifts and Presents for Children
The Story of Sinterklaas
The "Celebration of Sinterklaas" is all devoted to "children"; it's just entirely for "kids". The story told by adults to the children is, that Sinterklaas is a "holy man", rewarding the "good children" with gifts and presents. He sees all, good or bad things, and during the whole year he notes everything in his "great book".
He is visiting already some weeks before 6th of December all family homes, and leaves some "candies". He only leaves some candies, "if" the children put their "shoe" next to the chimney, because Sinterklaas is able, to enter all the homes through the chimney. For this reason, Sinterklaas indeed needs a lot of "Black Petes" (Zwarte Pieten) to help him with this huge work, and to visit "all the kids". He only leaves some candies in the shoes, if the children put next to the shoes some "sugar" and a "carrot" for the horse of Sinterklaas.
But most of all gifts he leaves during the night of 5th of December, so the children find them in the morning of the 6th. Mostly the Holy Man leaves the presents, according to the wishes, children are writing him in their letters already weeks before "the big day".
What kind of "gifts" and "presents" can the children expect from Sinterklaas?
All kind of Candies
Typical Sinterklaas treats traditionally include all kind of chocolates and/or cookies, mandarin oranges, letter-shaped cookies, chocolate letters, "speculaas" (brown spiced biscout), chocolate coins and marzipan figures. Newer treats include "pepernoten" (a type of shortcrust biscuit or gingerbread biscuits) and figurines of Sinterklaas made of chocolate and wrapped in colored aluminum foil.
Toys and Games
Sinterklaas can read already weeks before all the children's "wishes". So according the child's wishes, Sinterklaas mostly brings in during the night and the morning of 6th of December some of next toys, games, ... : board games, all kind of small toys and/or games, books... Of course, the presents are depending of the child's ages, and of how good their "behaving" has been during the year before.
Sinterklaas Poems and Songs
Famous during the Sinterklaas period (somewhere from mid November until 6th of December) are a lot of Poems and "Songs", kids are singing, at homes, in schools, during local Sinterklaas events and celebrations. Also in Malls and Shopping Centers you hear frequently this Sinterklaas Music, before the Christmas Period really starts. Referring to the website of "St. Nicholas Center", we can add the remark, Sinterklaas can't be the same as "Santa Claus", but there is some common historical basis. In fact, the name of Sinterklaas can't be translated into other languages, but a good translation would or could be: "Saint Nicholas". Nevertheless this "St. Nicholas site" gives a good representation about all you have to know about Sinterklaas. In this site, we found also the best representation of good best known "Sinterklaas Songs".
(The picture : Postcard from the Netherlands, designed by Marjan van Zeyl)
Sinterklaas Kapoentje (Sinterklaas, my dear one)
This song refers to the period before 6th of December, when children put their shoes next to the chimney, to receive some candies.
Gooi wat in mijn schoentje,
Breng wat in mijn laarsje,
Dank je Sinterklaasje.
Sinterklaas, my dear one,
Something in my shoe put,
Something in my stocking,
Thank you, Sinterklaasje!
Zie Ginds Komt de Stoomboot (Look There Comes the Steamboat)
This song refers to the fact, Sinterklaas is living in Spain, and he annually arrives with the Steamboat from Spain. Also is mentioned the rewarding of "good behaving children", and how Sinterklaas needs a lot of "Black Petes" to help him.
Zie ginds komt de stoomboot
uit Spanje weer aan.
Hij brengt ons Sint-Nicolaas
ik zie hem al staan.
Hoe huppelt zijn paardje
het dek op en neer,
hoe waaien de wimpels
al heen en al weer.
Zijn knecht staat te lachen
en roept ons reeds toe:
"Wie zoet is krijgt lekkers,
wie stout is de roe!"
Oh lieve Sint-Nicolaas,
kom ook eens bij mij,
en rijd toch ons huisje
niet stilletjes voorbij.
Look, here comes the steamboat
from far a-way lands.
It brings us St. Nich'las,
he's waving his hands.
His horse is a-prancing
on deck, up and down,
The banners are waving
in village and town.
His helper is laughing
and tells ev'ry one,
"The good kids get candy,
the bad ones get none!"
Oh, please dear St. Nich'las,
do ride your white horse,
just visit our house,
for we all have been good!
Sinterklaas, Goed Heilig Man (Sinterklaas, Good Holy Man)
This songs refers to Sinterklaas, being a "holy man".
Sinterklaas, goed heilig man!
Trek je beste tabberd an,
rij er mee naar Amsterdam,
van Amsterdam naar Spanje,
appeltjes van oranje,
appeltjes van de bomen
Sinterklaas zal komen!
Sinterklaas, good holy man!
Put your best robe on,
Ride away to Amsterdam,
To Amsterdam from Spain,
Little apples from Orange bring,
Apples from the apple trees,
Sinterklaas will come!
Listen to the Most Favorite Sinterklaas SONGS - Also the Favorites of my Kids
Children Choir "De Damrakkertjes"
Do You Celebrate Sinterklaas in your Family?
Baking Your Own Figurines - About Figurines Pastry
Make Your Own Marzipan Figurines - Marzipan Figurines Sweets
Learn about Sinterklaas
A Dutch Story
Make Your Own Candies - All Kinds Of Sweet Candies
Duel Debate about Sinterklaas
Would you implement the Celebration of Sinterklaas in your Children's Lifes?