Sinterklaas generous despite crisis
Despite the economic crisis Belgian consumers still like to spoil their children with presents from Saint Nicholas (Sinterklaas) and Santa Claus.
According to a survey carried out by the Consumer's Organisation OIVO, despite the economic crisis Belgian consumers still like to spoil their children with presents from Saint Nicholas (Sinterklaas) and Santa Claus. The Belgians spend an average of €339 per child on toys and games every year. The biggest expenditures on toys and games are between mid-October and the end of December.
All over Europe the toy industry is faring well with sales up by 10% over recent years. This is considerably more than the average increase in consumption expenditure of 2.1%. Belgians spend an average of €339 per child on toys and games every year. The survey reveals that 9 youngsters in 10 choose their own presents.
Saint Nicholas: a tradition of the Low Countries
Saint Nicholas' Eve (December 5) has traditionally been the main gift-giving holiday for children in the Low Countries (Netherlands and Belgium). In recent years, Christmas and Santa Claus are being pushed by shopkeepers, but the tradition of Saint Nicholas is still important.
The festivities start in the days leading up to Saint Nicholas Day (December 6) with Saint Nicholas arriving in the Low Countries on a steamboat from Spain, bringing his helper Zwarte Piet (Black Peter) with him.
The children put their shoes in front of the chimneys and sing special Sinterklaas songs. Often the shoe is filled with a carrot or some hay for Sinterklaas' horse. The next morning the children find a small present or candy in their shoes. The big present comes Saint Nicholas' Eve.
Antwerp welcomes Saint-Nicholas
Thousands of children gathered on Antwerp's main market squart to great Saint-Nicholas and his helper Black Peter on Saturday.
"There were no naughty children this year... you will all get a present."