Just celebrated “Sinterklaas” yesterday, which is a Belgian/Dutch tradition. It’s like Christmas though not Christian, and we have our own version of Santa Claus. “Sinterklaas” is basically the Dutch translation of “Santa Claus” anyway. He is a based on the historical figure Saint-Nicholas, a Greek bishop in Turkey who gave gifts to children and was posthumously declared holy. He has helpers who are called “Zwarte Piet” (or “Black Pete”) and he rides a white horse. He also comes through the chimney and leaves gifts for the children on his “nice” list. The kids on the “naughty” list however, they get spanked with a wooden rod, hidden in burlap sacks and carried of by the Black Petes. At least, according to the songs.
The Sinterklaas tradition is actually older than Santa Claus, and it’s what Santa Claus is based on as well – hence the many similarities. There are no decorations though, except for depictions of the holy man himself and his Black Petes. And there are also no special foods, except for a few specific sweets and biscuits. Kids get sweets, biscuits and many toys. And we also write letters to “Sinterklaas”.
So I’m not really in a Christmas mood this weekend. But I did like my advent calendars today!