Last Saturday at midday the Netherlands was dressed in red and gold to welcome Sinterklass.
Some cities, unfortunately, canceled the events that were scheduled for this celebration. While in other cities the activities continued with some restrictions so that children and parents in costumes could be seen on the streets.
But if you are new to the country you might be wondering who is Sinterklass? and what is it celebrating?
Who is Sinterklass?
Sinterklass is Saint Nicholas, patron saint of children, he is a Greek bishop of Myra in present-day Turkey. He is depicted as an elderly, stately, serious man with white hair and a long, full beard. He traditionally rides a white horse.
Sinterklaas is assisted by Zwarte Piet, a helper who wears a colorful costume, with a lace collar and a feathered cap, who holds a bag containing sweets for the children.
It is said that the tradition of throwing sweets was born when St. Nicholas saved three girls from prostitution by throwing gold coins through his window at night so that they could pay for their freedom.
According to the story one of the things Sinterklass evaluates is the behavior of the children. To those who have behaved excellently, he will give gifts and to those who have misbehaved, he will whip the children with his birch rod, which is made of willow branches. Sinterklaas carries a big, red book that records whether each child has been good or naughty in the past year.
In the past, the children who misbehaved zwarte piet put them in the bags or sacks that they carried and took them along with them to Spain. Nowadays Zwarte Piet does not do this anymore.
How did Sinterklass come to the Netherlands?
Sinterklass arrives in the Netherlands on a steamship from Spain and is helped on board by Zwarte Piet, where they bring the pre-packed gifts to be delivered all over the country.
These presents are delivered when Zwarte piet enters the chimneys and delivers presents. The children prepare their shoes with a carrot and a letter for Sinterklass to receive.
This celebration starts with the arrival and lasts until the 5th of December, the day when presents are handed out. Meanwhile, all over the country Sinterklass visits different towns and cities and performs activities with the children.
As mentioned before the children from the arrival of Sinterklass put their shoes with a carrot and a letter and wait for the next day to receive small presents and sweets in their shoes.
Sinterklass' helper has raised a number of conflicts for being considered a character who is a slave, who has his face painted black, which has been attributed as a racist celebration.
And some people are against this celebration.
For many the appearance of Zwarte piet is given by his entrance through the chimneys as with soot his face is blackened with black spots.
Enjoy this festive season.