Sinterklaas also known as Sint Nicolaas, is saint of Myra, Turkey. Santa Claus, a famous name in America and Asia is also derived from Sinterklaas. He is considered as the patron saint of children who had done a lot of good deeds and miracles in his lifetime. In Belgium and Netherlands he is shown as an elderly man with white hair, a long beard, who rides a white horse. He carries a big red book which contains information if children have been well behaved in the past year or not. Parents in Belgium threat their children to behave well the whole year, as it will be noted down in Sinterklaas’s book.
Belgium and Netherlands celebrates his birthday on 5th of December, were children are bestowed with gifts. Before the birth celebration there is another feast, known as arrival of Sinterklaas, celebrated in mid of November. He is considered to arrive on a steam boat from Spain, along with his group. Sinterklaas was originally from Turkey but his body was buried in Italy, which now belongs to Spain. Hence, he is said to be coming from Spain by ship to Belgium. His team members are known ‘zwarte piet’ (Black Peter) because of their black colored appearance. It is not sure why zwarte piet is black in colour and currently is in the state of controversy as it leads to racial discrimination.
Even today parents ask their children to keep their shoes next to the chimney with a carrot, which is meant for sinterklaas’s horse. Children believe that Zwarte piet would enter the house through the chimney and place speculoos (a biscuit made from cinnamon), chocolate with first alphabet of the Child’s name and many more items in the shoes before the sunrise and would take away the carrot for Sinterklaas’s horse. It is assumed that chimney soot is the cause for black colored appearance of Zwarte Piet as he tries to enter the house through chimney.
We happened to be in Maastricht, Netherlands during the arrival of Sinterklaas. We were asked by the hotel receptionists to leave our shoes outside as they were celebrating his arrival. The next day we had these goodies in our shoes.
Below are the pictures of celebration of Sinterklaas arrival in Limburg, Belgium.
Parking spot for Sinterklaas’s horse in Hasselt, Belgium.