Now that the disclaimer is done, lets get on with this blog.
So after being here for three months, a friend of mind posted something on my Facebook wall about Christmas here. The story was so crazy, I didn't believe it. I looked it up online and everything online supported the story I had heard. Still in disbelief (that is how crazy this story was) I went to work the next day and asked a colleague about the story and she confirmed the story as being true. Today I got to see first hand, the crazy celebration/story of the arrival of the Sinterklaas.
So in the Netherlands, they have two celebrations for Christmas. December 5th is St. Nicolas' Day and December 25th is Christmas. I think everyone knows what Christmas is, so I don't have to explain that. They have Santa Clause; he flies in a sled with reindeer and delivers gifts to all the good boys and girls. However; December 5th is another story. December 5th is St. Nicolas' Day. This is how the story of St. Nicolas goes (hold on, cause this story is crazy).
|Sinterklaas arriving in Amsterdam from Madrid, Spain.|
St. Nicolas is a retired Bishop from the county Turkey. He goes by the name Sinterklaas. He looks just like Santa Clause, but wears a hat that looks like a hat the Pope would wear. Sinterklaas lives in Spain and in mid-November he makes his way to the Netherlands via a boat (from Madrid Spain, a land locked city). Sinterklaas travels with a white horse and about six to eight black guys called Zwarte Piet (translated: Black Pete). Zwarte Piet is a "slave" that does Sinterklaas' bidding. They are really black, like Wesley Snipes black. I'm told that the reason they are this black is because first of all, they are black to begin with and they travel down the chimneys and the soot in the chimneys makes them even blacker.
|One of several boats with Zwarte Piets on them.|
Sinterklaas rides from house to house on a white horse with the Zwarte Piets and gives gifts to all the good little boys and girls just like Santa Clause. The Zwarte Piets give out a mixture of cookies and candies called "strooigode and Kruidnoten". After that is done, Sinterklaas then asks the parents which little boys and girls have been bad. If the parents point to the kids, the Zwarte Piets then kick the kids and whip them with switches. After the beating is done, the Zwart Piets then put the kids in a sack and they bring the kids back to Spain where they are forced to work.
Now is that a crazy story or what? If I heard that story as a kid, I would have never acted up. After all of that takes place, Santa Clause comes on December 25th and delivers more presents to the good children. So the children in the Netherlands get presents twice in December (if they are good) and if they are not good, they get beaten, kidnapped and taken to Spain (which Spain doesn't really sound like a bad place). I told you this was a crazy story, so I hope everyone has been good this year so the Zwarte Piets don't come and beat you and take you to Spain.