Friday, December 5, 2008

Happy Sinterklaas

It is December 5th, the day that Sinterklaas visits homes in the Netherlands. Sinterklaas is based on Saint Nicholas, patron saint of children, sailors and Amsterdam.

He is a bit like Santa Clause only he comes by boat from Spain and then rides a white horse around Holland. St. Nicholas has a group of black helpers called zwarte pieten, or "black petes". Black Petes are Moorish, Moroccan or African. If children have been bad this year they may be stuffed in a sack by Pete and taken back to Spain.

Good children will put out their shoes where Sinterklaas will leave them a present. Small gingerbread cookies called Pepernoten are typically eaten in quantity.

If all this is a bit confusing for non Dutch readers, the following explanation by author David Sedaris should clear things up a bit.

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