7 Dec 2011

WORDLESS WEDNESDAY

more participants here





Little explanation :

Our grandson Toby living in Amsterdam with his parents also celebrates St.Nicholas as his Dutch mother was used to since her childhood.

In the Netherlands, Saint Nicholas' Eve (5 December) is the primary occasion for gift-giving, when his reputed birthday is celebrated.

In the days leading up to 5 December (starting when Saint Nicholas has arrived in the Netherlands by steamboat in late November), young children put their shoes in front of the chimneys and sing Sinterklaas songs. Often they put a carrot or some hay in the shoes, as a gift to St. Nicholas' horse. (In recent years the horse has been named Amerigo in The Netherlands and Slechtweervandaag in Flanders.) The next morning they will find a small present in their shoes, ranging from sweets to marbles or some other small toy. On the evening of 5 December, Sinterklaas brings presents to every child who has behaved him- or herself in the past year (in practice, just like with Santa Claus, all children receive gifts without distinction). This is often done by placing a bag filled with presents outside the house or living room, after which a neighbour or parent bangs the door or window, pretending to be Sinterklaas' assistant. Another option is to hire or ask someone to dress up as Sinterklaas and deliver the presents personally. Sinterklaas wears a bishop's robes including a red cape and mitre and is assisted by many mischievous helpers with black faces and colourful Moorish dress, dating back two centuries. These helpers are called 'Zwarte Pieten' ("Black Petes") or "Père Fouettard" in the French-speaking part of Belgium.

The myth is, if a child had been naughty, the Zwarte Pieten put all the naughty children in sacks, and Sinterklaas took them to Spain (it is believed that Sinterklaas comes from Spain, where he returns after 5 December). Therefore, many Sinterklaas songs still allude to a watching Zwarte Piet and a judging Sinterklaas.

10 comments:

EastCoastLife said...

hmmmm.... I wonder what presents Grandma Gattina will get for her cute Toby?

catsynth said...

Interesting. I did not now about St. Nicholas Eve on Dec 5.

DawnTreader said...

I had heard most of it before but not the Zwarte Piet part. Interesting. Reminds me that there was a card game in my childhood called Svarte Petter in which he was a bad character/card, that must stem from the same myth. It's interesting how traditions mix and vary with time and geography.

Ann said...

heheh, today, I got my kids to solve a word and picture puzzle for Santa claus is coming to town. I impromptuly taught them to sing, You better watch out. The 5 year olds loved it.

diane b said...

i had heard of this day before but I wasn't sure of the details so thanks for that. Toby is growing so big.

Mara said...

Actually, the original Sinterklaas stories (as started in 1850) only told of St Nicholas or Sinterklaas and 1 helper. Not one mention as to the colour, but since there were quite a few very nimble Italian chimney sweeps working in Amsterdam and the Netherlands, black he became. Then after the Second World War ended, the Canadians who were helping us out at the time decided one helper wasn't enough and created an army of Black Peters by using their parachutes and making clothing for every Black Peter (or Canadian soldier as the case was).

Loree said...

They have a similar tradition in Austria. When we were there 4 years ago (I cannot believe it is already 4 years!) there were some stores giving shoppers little bags with sweets, peanuts etc. I loved that :)

Sukhmandir Kaur said...

Somewhat sinister that gifting by St Nickolas is done on a conditional basis for only those who behave while those who misbehave are kid-napsacked. Yie...

SandyCarlson said...

I just learned plenty. Your grandson is adorable. Thanks for this post!

sandra carlier said...

Sounds Tobby had a nice St Nicolas! We don't fest it in Provence! Sad but finally we have enough to fest with the pupils! Many festivities the last week!