Thursday, November 30, 2006

TT #18: Sinterklaas

Thirteen facts about Sinterklaas

Sinterklaas or St. Nicolaas is an old Dutch holiday / tradition,
celebrated on December 5th.

  • Nicholas was born in the fourth century in the village of Patara, at that time in Greece but now situated in Turkey.
  • When his parents died in an epidemic Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering.
  • He dedicated his life to serving God and was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man.
  • Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships.
  • He died December 6, AD 343 in Myra and was buried in his cathedral church. The anniversary of his death became a day of celebration, St. Nicholas Day.
  • A few weeks before his feast day Sinterklaas arrives in The Netherlands with his steam ship. He is said to come from Spain (Madrid), but nobody knows exactly why he ended up there.
  • His helpers are called "Zwarte Pieten" (Black Petes).
  • When he has arrived Dutch children leave carrots and hay in their shoes for his white horse Amerigo with drawings for the saint. Sinterklaas rides his horse on the roofs of houses. Zwarte Pieten climb down the chimney to take the offerings and leave candy and small gifts instead.
  • St. Nicholas' Day is celebrated on the evening of December 5th with the sharing of candies (thrown in the door), chocolate letters (everyone gets the first letter of their name in chocolate), gifts and riddles.
  • It's been a long journey from the fourth century Bishop of Myra, St. Nicholas, who showed his devotion to God in extraordinary kindness and generosity, to America's jolly Santa Claus. However, if you peel back the accretions he is still Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, whose caring surprises continue to model true giving and faithfulness.
  • You can read and hear traditional and new Sinterklaas songs here and English translations here.
  • Dutch living abroad (and others of course!) can order Sinterklaas goodies and candy at The Dutch Market, the Sinterklaas Shop or HollandByMail.
  • If you want to read more about Sinterklaas this is a website you can visit.


Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!


  1. What a beautiful list. I love the roots of our traditions. It really shows us how powerful these traditions are and the simple original inspiration.

    Here is my TT list, it's about condiments and vitamins...I'm obsessed with food...

  2. You were quicker than me, but I have photos about St. Claus ! I visited the church in October and it was VERY interesting, but quite disappointing for children ! If you want to see the pictures (the history you know already, except that his corps is probably in Bari (Italy) it's here :
    That's the blog I started with and then had to split it !

  3. How wonderful! Thanks for sharing the story of Sinterklaas! (I remember first hearing that name for whom I knew as Santa Claus, in the movie 'Miracle on 34th Street'. (The good B&W version with Natalie Wood, not the colorized version or the later remakes.)

  4. I already ate some chocolate letters and speculaas (gingerbread), oh, that's the best of Sinterklaas:)

  5. Great list! Thanks for sharing the story of St. Nicolas, and the Sinterklaas tradition with us. I was familiar with the story of St. Nicolas, but not of the Dutch traditions, and how they celebrate the holiday.

    Have a good day. :)

    Caylynn & Dragonheart

  6. I'M SO EXCITED! My dad's family, parents, came from the Netherlands. I vaguely remember celebrating and talking about some of these traditions. I'm printing your list to share with my boys. ;)

    I've posted my Thursday Thirteen, too. Enjoy!

  7. Great list--I knew some of this, but not all of it.

    Our kids have definitely taken to the St. Nicholas traditions--particularly the one that says they get candy and small gifts.

  8. a chocolate letter - we need to start that tradition here in the US

  9. Very interesting! I learned a lot! Thanks for visiting my T13.

  10. This is a wonderful list--so interesting. I didn't know St. Nick went all the way back to the 4th century. People need to know the roots of their traditions! (Thanks for explaining about the chocolate letters!)

  11. I just leared all about this from our Dutch friend. Great list.

    Check mine out about British foods!

    Have a great Thursday!

  12. Great list! I love learning about traditions!

  13. Love this! I wish we Americans paid more attention to the beginnings of the Santa Claus tradition.

    Thanks for posting! Happy Christmas and Thursday 13.

  14. Cool likes, we celebrate the Feast of St. Nich with the kids instead of the Santa... so I'm definitely going to check out your last bullet.

  15. THAT is cool stuff! Thanks for visiting West of Mars today, Tink. I'd have hated to miss learning this neat stuff.

  16. When we were younger we celebrated St. Nick's day. My mom would fill our stockings with candies and little toys.

    I didn't realize the man's history though. What a hard life he had and yet he did good for a lot of people.

    My 13 are up.

  17. The place i truly have to use my brain for a Thursday Thirteen.. always a thought provoker

  18. This was interesting. I love hearing all the other names for "Santa Claus." It makes everyone seem "the same" even though language and cultures are different. Santa is the one thing we all have in common.

  19. How neat, it's so interesting to see all of the different traditions!

  20. I thought your 13 Thursday pretty cool and I made link off my Thirteen Thursday for other to read.

    Talking about yule time holidays over at Boo Mama see my sidebar-coffee pals.
    She will be hosting a I know blogger won't link to other blogs in comment area.
    If you put this search in google "Boo Mama's Christmas Tour of Homes" it should pop right up.

    My t.t is up

  21. Hey there Tink! Thanks for stopping by my TT!! :)

    Interesting stuff about St. Nick.

  22. very nice list!
    Thanks for stopping by.

  23. Very Interesting indeed. :)

  24. kristarella1/12/06 04:59

    5th of December? Not really about Christmas at all. Nice tradition though!

  25. I always learn something when I come here!

  26. Although 26 is the perfect amount of comments of course, I add one anyway (even if you stole my topic....) Sorry! ;-p
    I made my second TT, so thanks for inspiring my too start my English blogging again.

  27. WOW! I love it! I love to know the histories behind things and this was really cool! GREAT TT!


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