As the American culture is moving into dutch society more and more, we dutch people are warmly welcoming the grizzly pumpkins in October and the presents under the Christmas tree. It is nice to have holidays added to the ones we used to celebrate from old.
One of these old and very precious dutch festives is the birthday of Saint Nicholas on december 5th. As legend tells it, he is already some 365 years old and still very much alive. Every year he visits the children in Holland around his brithday, sailing in from his residence in Spain with an old steamer packed with presents.
Every night, he wanders the streets with his white horse and some of his servants, zwarte Piet (black Peter). They go into the houses where sweet children live, and fill their ready-set shoe with presents. Zwarte Piet leaves behind some 'pepernoten' (small cookies) as litlle pieces of luck.
Does it sound a bit familiar? Well, maybe that is because he is said to be a cousin of Santa Claus. I guess giving away presents runs in the family.
But... although Santa seems a really nice guy to me, I hope he stays away from Holland. It seems that where Santa visits a home around christmas, poor old Sinterklaas is no longer welcome... and that to me is a big pity.
Understanding and acceptance around the world is a huge good to me, but also keeping alive the diversity in culture has to have it's attention. So... here's to Sinterklaas!