The arrival of Sinterklaas into the Netherlands each year is a huge celebration for families with small children. St Nicholas or Sinterklaas arrives from Spain (supposedly) bringing with him his loyal and mischievous helpers the zwarte Piets (highly controversial in non Dutch circles because of their black painted faces.)
All around the Netherlands boats bring Sinterklass into the towns and cities for the families to welcome him in. Children wait eager with their presents lists to hand over and bags ready to catch sweets thrown by the zwarte piets.
From his arrival until the 5th December each night the Dutch children will leave a shoe outside the door of their house in the hope of a small present or chocolate or pepernoten (small spiced cookies). The zwarte Piets regularly visit houses at night throughout this time leaving small presents to let the children know that they are watching out to see if Sinterklaas should come to their house on the 5th!
Eventually on the afternoon of the 5th December Sinterklaas visits each house in the Netherlands; leaving a sack of presents on the doorstep for children. Much like father Christmas he works his magic visiting every house! Neighbours of families with small children help bring this tradition alive by delivering the sacks and banging on the doors and windows of the house as they leave to let the family know that the Sint has been! Henry became a devout believer our first year here after my neighbour did such an amazing job at delivering the sack!
I’ve been to Doesburg for 3 years now, and every year the celebration is one of colour, fun and family celebration. There is so much excitement when the boats are spotted coming down the river. This may be my son’s last year believing in it, so we enjoyed the spectacle and even tried to join in with a few of the songs!
Enjoy the photos!