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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Sinterklaas kapoentje...

Sinterklaas kapoentje, leg wat in mijn schoentje...

This is the beginning of a centuries old song which children sing the night before Sinterklaas comes. The good holy man comes during the night between December 5th and 6th.

Sinterklaas or Saint Nichols is the main figure of a yearly celebration which takes place in Holland, Belgium and some former colonies of Holland. It has an ancient origin. And do you know that Santa Claus is actually Sinterklaas, as the custom was brought to America by Dutch and Flemish shipbuilders?

Already in the 15th century, children in Flanders and Holland put their shoes before the chimney, because the saint travels on the roofs and drops the presents through the chimney. He rides a white horse and is accompanied by one or two servants - Zwarte Pieten. Not to be a racist, but they were always portrayed by black men. Perhaps they were seldom seen in those times???

On the Saturday following on 11th November (Saint Martin), Sinterklaas makes his official entry in our country. According to the song, he comes from Spain in a steamboat, but right now, he ferries down the Schelde and comes to land in Antwerp, where thousand of children are waiting for him. This event is also brought on national TV.

And of course only good kids get a presents.Those who are naughty don't get anything. Surprise, surprise this year the Saint did not find any naughty child when he arrived in Antwerp....

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