Family Fun: Sinterklaas arrives in Holland

16 November 2015

Dear friend,

Saturday brought much excitement to our house. The little man has been asking for weeks when Sinterklaas will arrive and this weekend much to his delight, he finally did. For those of you that don't know what Sinterklaas is, it is a Dutch children's festival that is celebrated every year in Holland on 5th December. (If you want to find out more you can follow this link to wikipedia.)

The build up to Sint began weeks ago:

The little man made his list with Papa, he couldn't wait!

Watching the 'intocht', Sinterklaas arriving.

At lunch time on Saturday the T.V. Coverage began and we sat and watched the intocht in Meppel. Every year there is a story played out on the Sinterklaas journal, a children's news channel. It is followed avidly by most kids (and parents) and we play along with the story e.g. Keys getting lost, Sint's staff going missing. Everyone talks about it! The boys were entranced by the intocht again this year and afterwards they drew some pictures for Sint.

Later that afternoon Oma and Opa came and we all went to watch Sint arrive in our small village. I love that this has become a real family tradition. They join us every year and we watch the arrival then return to our house for coffee. Real family time! 

Each year Sint appears in a different way e.g. by horse, fire truck, tractor. This year he came up the canal in a boat. He draws a big crowd and the mayor and local news channel are waiting. All the kids sing songs and give him the pictures they've made. Sint has helpers called Piet who give out sweets to the children and collect their drawings. 

Sint arrived by boat with his helper Piets
(In recent years there has been a lot of controversy surrounding the use of the Piet but I am not an expert and I don't want to join that debate here, that is for politicians and people cleverer than me. There is an interesting article here too; What the bleep is Sinterklaas.) 

The little man waiting with his drawing for Sint.

He's here!

The boys with their peppernoten (sweets) from the Piet.

Sinterklaas: arrives. The little man shook his hand here but you can't see him in the crowd of people!

In the centre of the village is a podium and singing, dancing etc. this year they even made the house of Sinterklaas. But it is very busy, noisy, colorful and crowded and although our big lad copes amazingly with it, we like to get away as soon as the little man has shook hands with Sinterklaas.

Up until December 5th children can leave out their shoes, next to the fireplace or on the stairs. They sing a song for Sinterklaas before going to bed and in the morning they receive little gifts mostly chocolates or sweets in their shoes. They also leave a shoe out at school where they usually get a visit from messy Piet, who creates chaos in every class. Sinterklaas visits each school during this period and each child receives a gift.

A chocolate letter at home and more chocolate at Oma and Opa's house too. Lucky boys!

The craziness has started and now we wait until 5th December, on 'Pakjes avond' (presents evening) families get together and if they have been good receive a sack of presents from Sint and Piet. 

It is a really magical time for kids! 

Liked this post then check out more of my EXPAT series here.

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