Sunday, November 19, 2006

He's back!

Sinterklaas is back in town and I know for sure Kirstie isn't the only one who's excited! When it comes to the holidays, I think the majority of us have still remained a child at heart. I don't mind at all that the Dutch celebrate Sinterklaas (which by the way is THE original Santa Clause)because that means more celebration!

Sinterklaas is based on the historical character of Saint Nicholas, the Turkish bishop who lived in Myra in the 4th century A.D.. Because of his many good deeds, he got the reputation of being "helper to those in need". He passed away on the 6th of December 342 A.D. and the eve before his death became the day of gift giving (the celebration of Sinterklaas)here in The Netherlands. Although perhaps not very politically correct, Sinterklaas is always accompanied by his Pieten. These characters also have their own history. Saint Nicholas is believed to have set a black slave free who was being sold at a market. His name was Peter, hence the name, Piet (Pete). It is said that although Peter was set free, he willingly chose to be Saint Nicholas' helper.

The Dutch Protestant settlers brought the tradition of Sinterklaas with them to New Amsterdam (modern day New York)in the 17th century. The Dutch still celebrated the feast of Saint Nicholas but at that time it was still separate from Christmas. When Clement Clark Moore published his "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" in 1822 the Santa Clause we now know was born and in 1931 Coca Cola gave him a face!

Yesterday my family and I welcomed Sinterklaas in our city's harbor. The children were kept happy and entertained by Pieten who provided them all with lots of laughs and pepernoten. Kirstie even got to talk to Sinterklaas and asked him how he was doing! We set our shoes out in the evening, sang some songs and woke up this morning to find three chocolate letters each bearing our initials. On the 5th the Sint, as we call him, will deliver a sack full of presents and yipee for Kirstie (and me), the fun doesn't end there. Santa will then be on his way!

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