Within these 3 weeks, songs with theme of Sinterklaas have been echoing all over the Netherlands. Yes, Sinterklaas arrived in the Netherlands. A person like me who is not a native will right away link him with Christmas time. I used to think that Sinterklaas is Santa Claus or Sinterklas (Indonesian word). In fact, Sinterklaas does not necessary associate with Christmas. They have Kerstman Man which looks like similar to those Santa Claus. Apparently the Netherlands has its own Sinterklaas which is quite different with those international Santa Clause, if I may say.
So many people here believe that he comes from Spain as he annually arrives in Holland on steam boat from Spain. In fact the real history said that Sinterklaas (St Nicholas) was a Bishop of Myra in Lycia, the present day Turkey, in the fourth century. As the tradition goes… he arrives in netherlands generally in mid November together with his Moorish servants, the black Peters (Zwarte Pieten). He tours the country on a white horse, visiting all the main towns to the great excitement of the children. Some are in awe of him, because their parents tell them that he knows all about them – who has been good and who has been bad. He always brings a tick book from Spain, listing good children together with their present.
Zwarte Pieten throw cookies and sweets to the children and generally clown around, singing or playing musical instruments. Children used to be told that they would only give sweets to the good ones and take naughty children away in their sack and bring them to Spain. So can you imagine that between Mid November and beginning of December, all of the sudden, all children in the Netherlands behave nicely. Furthermore, I wonder that tomorrow Spain will be full of naughty Dutch children as on the December 6, Sinterklaas returns to Spain with his zwarte Pieten until next year.
Every year they make the story as if it was true, of course it is not. They organize it very nicely, so that the same story will be spread out over the country. I wonder if the Government takes its part as a way of preserving Dutch tradition. This website also has been prepared for this occasion. Before Sinterklaas came, the website only shown the picture of animation steam boat approaching the Netherlands. However, the picture changed as Sinterklaas arrived. I wonder what it looks like tomorrow.
So this year Sinterklaas came to Holland on 18th of November. He was supposed to arrive in Middleburg as the scenario written. So many people were there waiting for him and his servant arrival. It was reported lively on TV and radio. So, my birthday was celebrated partly by watching TV, seeing whether this year there will be another problem faced. The story differs every year. For this year, Sinterklaas did not arrive exactly in Middleburg because the light in the light house was not illuminated so that it was difficult for Sinterklaas to find the right direction. The scenario was made so nicely so that Zwarte Pieten lost the big book containing the name of all good childen. They now have an excuse not to provide a present as the children wish. They children still believe that Sintaklaas will fulfill their wish if they behave nicely
This story was reported and updated time to time on TV, not only shown in special TV programme, but also appeared in real news programme together with news about Iraq or election in the Netherlands. Children may think that it is real story. Unfortunately, I didn’t follow they story day by day, because I didn’t have interpreter who is always ready for me to translate Dutch into either English or Indonesian. I don’t speak Dutch and I simply don’t know.