Each culture and each Nation has its own traditions. We want to teach our children that it is important and concurrently interesting to learn about the culture and the traditions of the country they are living in.
Celebrating traditions is not intended to exclude people. To learn about foreign traditions will expand the own horizon and it may activate new insides and reflections about the own tradition and culture.
Shortly you will find here a brief overview of the Dutch traditions.
Sinterklaas in short
Sinterklaas is a traditional winter holiday figure still celebrated in the Low Countries, including the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. He is also well known in territories of the former Dutch Empire, including Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Indonesia, and Suriname. He is one of the sources of the holiday figure of Santa Claus in North America.
According to the legend Sinterklaas was a bishop who lived in Turkey around the year 300. As he cared for the poor, it broke his heart to see that a man with three daughters had no money to support them, let alone pay their dowry.
The story goes that Saint Nicolaas wanted to help by throwing money through the window, which accidentally ended up in a shoe (hence the fact that the Dutch children put their shoe every night by the chimney/door during the time that Sinterklaas is in the Netherlands!)
This traditional feast is celebrated yearly on the 5th of December when Sinterklaas drops or brings presents for children at their homes. This is the eve before Sinterklaas’ birthday.
Approximately three weeks before this date, Sinterklaas and his Zwarte Pieten arrive in the Netherlands on his boat with the presents he’ll give to the children. Every year they arrive in another city.
During the period before the celebration of Sinterklaas’ birthday, children put their shoe at the fireplace. With the shoe, the children leave a carrot and some hay for the Sinterklaas’ horse. Then the children sing a song for Sinterklaas and the next day they will find some candy or presents in their shoes.
Sinterklaas and his Pieten usually carry a bag which contains candy for children. The Zwarte Pieten toss candy around, a tradition when Sinterklaas and his Zwarte Pieten enter the room where the children are waiting.