That Sinterklass!


St. Nicolas Day,



In Belgium, they celebrate Sinterklaas on the morning of the 6 December. In the days leading up to December 6th just after Saint Nicholas will arrive by steamboat around mid-November, young children put their shoes in front of the chimneys and sing Sinterklaas songs. Often they put a carrot or some hay in their shoes, as a gift to St. Nicholas' horse. In recent years the horse has been named Schimmel. 



The next morning children would find a small present in their shoes, ranging from sweets to marbles or some other small toy. Just like Santa Claus, all children receive gifts without distinction. This is often done by placing a bag filled with presents outside the house or living room, after which a neighbor or parent bangs on the door or window, pretending to be Sinterklaas' assistant. Or you could hire or ask someone to dress up as Sinterklaas and deliver the presents personally. 

Such good buddies 

Sinterklaas wears a bishop's robes including a red cape and mitre (bishops headgear) and is assisted by many mischievous helpers, called Zwarte Pieten or in the French-speaking part of Belgium, with black faces and colorful Moorish dress, dating back two centuries. In the past, it was said that the Zwarte Pieten took all the naughty children, put them into sacks, and Sinterklaas took them with him to Spain, in order to scare the children. Therefore, many Sinterklaas songs still allude to a watching Zwarte Piet and a judging Sinterklaas.

Zwarte Pieten

In highly Catholic regions, the local priest was informed by the parents about their children's behavior and would then personally visit the homes in the traditional Christian garment and threaten to beat them with a rod. Man St. Nick was one scary dude with scary friends!


You dab your bad!

Comments

  1. No jolly fat elf for the folks of Europe!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh yes, Black Peter who I was talking about in my last comment! His name, colour and "Moorish" i.e. Islamic/Arabic clothes are all very politically incorrect now in Europe. And quite rightly so. He needs a 20th century makeover. Perhaps this is why Krampus is regaining some of his popularity -- he's clearly not meant to be a slam against any identifiable cultural or religious group. He's just a good old-fashioned demon beast.

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