In the Netherlands his birthday is celebrated annualy on 'Sinterklaas' eve (5 December), which we call pakjesavond (presents/gifts eve).Sinterklaas has a lot of simularities with Santa Claus (Kerstman) but they are not the same and we do celebrate Christmas (Kerst) as well (on 25 and 26 December).
The arrival of Sinterklaas into the Netherlands (this year on 16 November) is a huge event and is broadcoast on national TV. He arrives with a steamboat which we call pakjesboot (presents/gifts boat).
With him there are a lot of zwarte Pieten (black Pete's) which are the helpers (like Santa's elves).
They climb down the chimney's to deliver the presents. They are very acrobatic and throw pepernoten (see image) for the children to find.
From the arrival until Sinterklaas eve it's custom that children put one shoe in front of the fireplace, sing Sinterklaas songs and go to bed.
Sometimes the shoe contains a drawing for Sinterklaas or a treat (apple, carrot, hay, sugar) for his horse.
The next morning drawings and treats are gone and there will be candy or a little gift in return. Or a small plastic bag filled with salt if you were naughty.
On Sinterklaas eve it's common that families sing Sinterklaas songs and will be interupted at some point by a zwarte Piet that throws pepernoten. After the first shock the children will look for zwarte Piet and will find a burlap sack with presents instead (left by zwarte Piet).
Although it's a feast for young children it's common that the adults and older children will receive some gifts as well (mostly in a personalized surprise wrap, see image and/or with a personalized poem).
On 6 December Sinterklaas departs without any ado and all festivities are over.
Today I decided to make a nail art about Sinterklaas and some of his charasteristics:
- Index: Sinterklaas his big book (who's been naughty or nice)
- Middle: Present/gift
- Ring: His red mitre with golden cross
- Pinky: a gold-coloured crosier; a long ceremonial shepherd's staff with a fancy curled top