Saintly fun hasn’t finished yet! On Saturday, followed closely on a special television broadcast by all children in Belgium and the Netherlands, Saint Nicholas, arrived from Spain by steamboat.
You see, Saint Nicholas, or ”Sinterklaas”, lives forever, and many centuries ago he was the bishop of Smyrna. He used to give dowries to poor girls so they could get good husbands. Saint Nicholas now lives in Spain during most of the year, but in November Saint Nicholas, and his black Piets, and his white horse, all travel by steamboat to the Netherlands and Belgium.
This old nineteenth century lithograph showing Sinterklaas and black Piet on the roof, Saint Nicholas is throwing down candy to the expectant children in the house.
From now until the fifth of December, Saint Nicholas will ride the roofs of all houses at night, together with black Piet, and distribute small gifts to children.
So if you are still small, you can take your shoe, put it in front of the fireplace, (if you’re really nice you add a carrot for the grey horse) and sing special ”Sinterklaas-songs” and while you are sleeping, Black Piet climbs down the chimney, leaves a small present in your shoe, and take up the carrot to the grey horse.
A very rare modern photograph of Sinterklaas and black Piet climbing the roof of an old farm.
In the daytime, Saint Nicholas travels around a lot visiting different cities, and schools, businesses and hospitals. This causes conflicts. Newspapers have been known to announce three different visits of Sinterklaas, on different locations, at the same time! How is that possible?
Well, actually, there are ”help-Saints” to make it possible for Saint Nicholas to be everywhere at once. And it doesn’t matter where or when you get to meet Sain Nicholas, you can always be sure you are meeting the one and only real Saint Nicholas!
On these occasions The black Piets hand out special candy and small cookies, made with spicy herbs, and candy in lettershapes, and chocolate in animal shapes. This is called ”strooigoed” and everybody can get a handfull.
A group of ”Help-Saints”