Sinterklaas is celebrated annually with the giving of gifts on 5 December. However the Sint arrives in the Netherlands each year in mid-November. Since this is my first year living in the Netherlands, it was important for me to see Sinterklaas arriving in Roelofarendsveen. Despite some looming bad weather, the harbour was full of excited kids and their parents.
Legend has it that Sinterklaas originally came from Turkey as St. Nicolaus, the Bishop of Mira, however the current tradition has him arriving from Spain by steam boat. No one really knows why there was a change from Turkey to Spain, but historians point to the Spanish domination over the Netherlands in the past.
Sinterklaas was schedule to arrive at around 3, and true to his Dutch nature, he was right on time! Traditional Sinterklaas songs were being played, and most were singing along. It seems I have some learning to do before next year!
You can see in the video I took that Sinterklaas’ helpers are throwing bags into the crowd. These bags were filled with pepernoten, a type of cookie/candy associated with Sinterklaas. RB’s mom gave me a few to try, but I didn’t really like them. I prefer the kruidnoten, which are crunchy and taste like gingerbread. I could eat bags and bags of kruidnoten, and may still given that there’s still 3 weeks until Sinterklaasavond!
After his steamboat docked, Sinterklaas and his helpers, the Zwarte Pieten, mingled with all of the children at the harbour. The Zwarte Pieten continued to hand out pepernoten and mandarin oranges, another typical Sinterklaas treat. One of the Zwarte Pieten I met 4 years ago recognised me and gave me one. It was delicious!
After making his way through the crowd, Sinterklaas mounted his horse, Amerigo, and paraded along the main road in town with Liefde voor Harmonie, one of the local marching bands. Because the weather wasn’t great, rather than gathering in one of the town squares, they made their way to the cafe beside our apartment to continue the celebration.
I was a scrooge and went home to have a hot cup of tea!