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Sinterklaas 2013 – Amsterdam

St. Nicholas, typically associated to Christmas, will be the star of a great festival celebrated on the 17th of November 2013 in the Netherlands. This is not just a regular celebration; it is a rooted Dutch tradition that never fails to mesmerize locals and visitors.

In anticipation of St. Nicholas’ arrival, streets, houses and shops all over the country are decorated with images of the venerable red-dressed old man with the white beard.

Although it is not very clear why Sinterklaas lives in Spain, every year during mid-November he arrives by boat to Amsterdam along with his assistants the Zwarte Pieten (the black Peters). Wearing elegant medieval clothes, Sinterklaas and his assistants navigate the beautiful waters of the Amstel River, while waiving at families that enjoy his colorful parade from the riverbanks. The cheerful boat-parade ends at noon at Amsterdam’s Maritime Museum (Scheepvaartmuseum), where Santa and his assistants are welcomed by the city Mayor.


Photo: Sander van der Wel

At half past Twelve Sinterklaas gets on Americo, his beautiful white horse, and heads towards the famous Dam square in a joyful parade led by his beloved assistants, who throw millions of candies to the happy crowds that enjoy this show full of music and dances. At Dam Square, you’ll find thousands of families craning their necks to get a glimpse of Sinterklaas’ arrival. Multiple acrobat shows and, of course, the Zwarte Pieten, who wouldn’t spot throwing candies until everyone get a piece, liven up this beautiful event.

Starting on the 17th of November and until the 6th of December, Santa and his loyal assistants get down the chimneys to collect the carrots that well-behaved children have left for his horse, and in exchange, Santa’s assistants full their socks with leave traditional sweets (honey cakes, chocolate coins, marzipan sweets and almond figurines).

This Dutch tradition has many origins including the Germanic god Wodan, who is commonly represented as a tall, strong man with a long white beard, always flying on his white horse. However the most common story refers to St. Nicholas, a wealthy Christian man who decided to give all his money away to the poor. He then became the Archbishop of Myra (located nowadays in Turkey) and due to his many good deeds, including several miracles, became a Saint.

Saint Nicholas died on the 6th of December 342, and in 1089 his remains were moved to the Italian city of Bari, which for a long time belonged to Spain. Maybe that´s why the Dutch Sinterklaas still lives in Spain.

As Dutch settlers in North America celebrated the arrival of Sinterklaas, it became part of the American celebrations that later was combined with Christmas, so Sinterklaas became Santa Claus.

This holiday is also celebrated in the Flemish part of Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Poland.

So, now you know, come to Amsterdam on the 17th of November and surprise your children with an early Christmas celebration, I am sure all your family will be thrilled.


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TROOST APT. Apartment

TROOST APT. Apartment