On a Sunday in the middle of November, St. Nicholas, known as Sinterklaas in the Netherlands, arrives in Amsterdam.
In 2008 (November 16th), I was there to witness this colorful event! As my sweetheart and I were walking to Hortus Botanicus (Amsterdam’s amazing botanical garden) …
“We noticed children dressed up in caps of satin, with blackened faces; …”
“Today is the day Sinterklaas arrives in town along the Amstel River. We hear the boats’ horns and the crowd’s cheers as he appears!”
Thus begins “Sinterklaas Season” when Sinterklaas and his helpers travel around the country, visiting hospitals, schools, shops, restaurants, and even homes during the three weeks before the main Sinterklaas celebration. Sint and his Piets seem to be everywhere at once, asking about children’s behavior and listening through chimneys. The children leave their shoes out with carrots and hay for the horse. In exchange the Piets put candy or a small gift in the shoes to be found in the morning.
(Text in italics is from St. Nicholas Center website.)
Although we did not actually witness the arrival of Sinterklaas [we had entered the botanical gardens by the time he arrived], we enjoyed seeing the nautical celebrants!
Happy beginning of the Holidays!