December 3, 2011

Sinterklaas has Come to Town

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:57 pm by newsurroundings

Sinterklaas is the Belgian version of Santa Claus.  Instead of a sleigh pulled by reindeer, he arrives on a steamboat and rides around on a white horse.  Instead of living at the North Pole, he comes from Spain.  Instead of being assisted by elves, Sinterklaas has mischievous helpers with black faces.

Sinterklaas arrived in Antwerp a few weeks ago amid much celebration.  It was a televised event, but we unfortunately missed it because we were out of town.  I did happen to see him today though, on his way to the refugee center where our church was hosting a party for the children there.

Sinterklass and his helpers (Black Petes)

Sinterklaas at last year's party

That book he is holding contains the names of all the children and whether they’ve been “naughty or nice”.  The helpers carry burlap sacks that the bad children are stuffed in and taken away, although I think parents have stopped telling this to their kids now in this enlightened age.  I’m glad I didn’t grow up hearing that.  It was much less frightening to think you may just get a lump of coal or no presents at all if you weren’t good throughout the year.

Belgian children are fortunate that they don’t have to wait until Christmas day for their presents.  Sinterklaas day is December 6 and that is when they receive their toys, although it is still a regular school day for them. They still get gifts on Christmas day, but those are usually the less-anticipated items, such as clothes.

Merry Christmas, one and all!  Preetige Feestdagen!