Saint Nicholas arrives safely in Holland

13th November 2011, Comments 0 comments

Children in the Netherlands can expect a small gift if they put their shoe in front of the fireplace this evening as Saint Nicholas has arrived safely in the country.

Every year, the Dutch celebrate the arrival by steamboat of 'Sinterklaas' - his Dutch name - assisted by several 'Black Peters'. This year, thousands of children and their parents waited for his boat on the quayside in Dordrecht near Rotterdam. They passed the time singing traditional Saint Nicholas songs.

The holy man was welcomed to the city by Mayor Arno Brok. The popular saint’s arrival and his parade on horseback through the streets of Dordrecht was televised live to the nation.

The saint traditionally arrives a few weeks ahead of his birthday on 6 December. His birthday is celebrated with presents and rhymes on the evening before his birthday. In the next few weeks, children will put their shoe in front of the fireplace a number of times hoping to find them filled with sweets and gifts in the morning.

Four people were arrested in Dordrecht wearing T-shirts protesting that "Black Peter is racism". Police say they were arrested after they sought a platform for their protest. The issue of whether having a white saint helped by black assistants is racism is raised from time to time in the Netherlands - but generally Dutch people see the event as no more than a children's festivity.

The arrival of Saint Nicholas #sinterklaasintocht has even become a worldwide trending topic on Twitter for a while on Saturday.

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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