Today’s a big day for the children of the Netherlands: it’s the feast day of Sint Nicolaas, or Sinterklaas.
The festivities have been going on since Sinterklaas officially arrived in the Netherlands via steamship from Spain on the 16th November. Kids have been setting out their shoes every night, eager to receive kruidnoten (spiced cookies) and little gifts in the morning. Zwarte Piet, Sinterklaas’ helper, has definitely been busy!
We don’t celebrate Sinterklaas at home, but I’ve become more aware of the Dutch tradition now that I have Tala. She’s too young to celebrate it now, but I know that as she goes to Dutch playschool and preschool, Sinterklaas will become part of her life—which means it will become part of ours, too.
This year I found out even more about the whole Sinterklaas tradition. For example, there’s the Sinterklaasjournal, a nationwide-airing news show dedicated to the activities of Sinterklaas and the Zwarte Pieten, which kids watch in school. From misplaced presents to Piet’s special wrapping paper, the narrative constantly evolves… and gets pretty elaborate. Parents have to keep up with the “news” or the jig is up!
I’m pretty confident we can find some way for Sinterklaas and Santa Claus to coexist peacably. I’m just glad I have another year to figure out how to do it! Do you celebrate multicultural holiday traditions at home? How do you make them work? I’d love to hear some advice.
Prettige Sinterklaasfeest to you, if you’re welcoming Sint in your home tonight. If not, let’s turn up the volume on those Christmas carols, shall we?