Being a Kid Big Time: Sinterklaas

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Dutch kids don't really appreciate Santa Claus. They have their own big guy who delivers presents: it's Sinterklaas (St Nicholas). Today is his day, but sometime in November Sinterklaas arrives to the Netherlands. They organize big parades on that day in all the cities. Yep, he arrives to all the cities in the country on the same day - that's what the children believe. Actually, when a few of us asked our Dutch classmate about the tradition, she said she kept looking around to see if there are any kids nearby, because it's really important to keep their belief in the good guy. 

Sinterklaas arrives to the city on a steamboat (from Spain!), followed by a lot of his helpers, Zwarte Piets - black Peters. Recently there has been a lot of discussion on whether the tradition is racist and offensive, but still, every year Zwarte Piets stay zwarte. I read that last year there was a survey on this, and 92% of the Dutch public did not perceive Zwarte Piet as racist or associate him with slavery, and 91% were opposed to altering the character's appearance. 

Zwarte Piets and Sinterklaas are supposed to throw ginger cookies to kids waiting for them - well, I didn't see them throwing anything. At some point their parade through the city canal was over and then they were supposed to parade on the streets, but I was too cold and just decided to go and grab a tea with my friend Chaya. (Amazing tea and bagels at Bagels & Beans, don't miss if/when in the Netherlands!)

Overall impression? I love parades. I had so much fun. It's good to let your inner child out from time to time. ;)

Love, Tihana

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