Sinterklaas opens festive season
17 November 2003 , AMSTERDAM — Sinterklaas and his legion of Zwarte Piet helpers arrived by boat at the Zwolle harbour at about 12.30pm on Saturday to herald the start of the Dutch Saint Nicholas festive season.
17 November 2003
AMSTERDAM — Sinterklaas and his legion of Zwarte Piet helpers arrived by boat at the Zwolle harbour at about 12.30pm on Saturday to herald the start of the Dutch Saint Nicholas festive season.
The official arrival of Sinterklaas was greeted with cheers from hundreds of Dutch children lining the wharf as Zwarte Piet helpers deftly moored the ship — dubbed the Pakjesbooat 12 (Presents Boat 12) — in the capital of the Overijssel province.
After his arrival, the Sint rode his white horse Amerigo in a festive tour through the city streets, which ended on the Grote Markt with an official welcome from the Zwolle Mayor, Henk Jan Meijer.
The Sint — known as Saint Nicholas in English — also received drawings and was loudly welcomed with various songs.
Besides the official arrival of Sinterklaas — who forms the central role in the 5 December feast of St Nicolas when the Dutch exchange gifts — various other cities and towns also staged Sinterklaas arrival celebrations on Saturday.
Traditionally, in mid-November, two weeks before his celebrated feast day, Sinterklaas arrives in the Netherlands by boat from his home in Spain (it is widely believed that Spanish sailors brought the legend of Saint Nicholas to the Netherlands).
Accompanied by his white horse and the Zwarte Pieten, he arrives to signify the start of the holiday season. This event is broadcast live and each year Sinterklaas arrives in a different city.
The Black Petes are the subject of heated discussion in the Netherlands due to their skin colour and alleged likeness to Dutch colonial slaves. But the existence of Black Petes is defended by claims their skin is black from chimney soot and they are fun characters for children.
Their role is to assist Sinterklaas by performing various holiday tasks, such as delivering presents down chimneys and recording names of naughty and nice children. Good children get presents, while naughty children are given coal.
Sinterklaas should not be confused with the Kerstman (Santa Claus), who arrives as per tradition on 25 December as part of the Dutch Christmas celebrations.
[Copyright Expatica News 2003]
Subject Dutch news