Sinterklaas (Dutch pronunciation: [ˌsɪntərˈklaːs] ) or Sint-Nicolaas (Dutch pronunciation: [sɪnt ˈnikoːlaːs] (
Saint Nicholas of Myra, also known as Nicholas of Bari, was an early Christian bishop of the ancient Greek maritime city of Myra in Asia Minor during the time of the Roman Empire. Because of the many miracles attributed to his intercession, he is also known as Nicholas the Wonderworker. Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors, merchants, archers, repentant thieves, prostitutes, children, brewers, pawnbrokers, and students in various cities and countries around Europe. His reputation evolved among the faithful, as was common for early Christian saints, and his legendary habit of secret gift-giving gave rise to the traditional model of Santa Claus through Sinterklaas.
West Frisian, or simply Frisian is a West Germanic language spoken mostly in the province of Friesland in the north of the Netherlands, mostly by those of Frisian ancestry. It is the most widely spoken of the Frisian languages.
West Flemish is a Germanic language closely related to Dutch language, and sometimes considered a dialect of Dutch, that is spoken in western Belgium and adjoining parts of the Netherlands and France.
The feast of Sinterklaas celebrates the name day of Saint Nicholas on 6 December. The feast is celebrated annually with the giving of gifts on St. Nicholas' Eve (5 December) in the Netherlands and on the morning of 6 December, Saint Nicholas Day, in Belgium, Luxembourg and northern France (French Flanders, Lorraine and Artois). The tradition is also celebrated in territories of the former Dutch Empire, including Curaçao and Suriname.
Saint Nicholas Day, or the Feast of Saint Nicholas, observed on December 5/6 in Western Christian countries and December 19 in Eastern Christian countries on the Old Calendar, is the feast day of Saint Nicholas. It is celebrated as a Christian festival with particular regard to his reputation as a bringer of gifts, as well as through the attendance of Mass or other worship services. In Europe, especially in "Germany and Poland, boys would dress as bishops begging alms for the poor." In Ukraine, children wait for St. Nicholas to come and to put a present under their pillows provided that the children were good during the year. Children who behaved badly may expect to find a twig or a piece of coal under their pillows. In the Netherlands, Dutch children put out a clog filled with hay and a carrot for Saint Nicholas' horse. On Saint Nicholas Day, gifts are tagged with personal humorous rhymes written by the sender. In the United States, one custom associated with Saint Nicholas Day is children leaving their shoes in the foyer on Saint Nicholas Eve in hope that Saint Nicholas will place some coins on the soles.
The Dutch colonial empire comprised the overseas territories and trading posts controlled and administered by Dutch chartered companies and subsequently by the Dutch Republic (1581–1795), and by the modern Kingdom of the Netherlands after 1815. It was initially a trade-based system which derived most of its influence from merchant enterprise and from Dutch control of international maritime shipping routes through strategically placed outposts, rather than from expansive territorial ventures. With a few notable exceptions, the majority of the Dutch colonial empire's overseas holdings consisted of coastal forts, factories, and port settlements with varying degrees of incorporation of their hinterlands and surrounding regions. Dutch chartered companies often dictated that their possessions be kept as confined as possible in order to avoid unnecessary expense, and while some such as the Dutch Cape Colony and Dutch East Indies expanded anyway, others remained undeveloped, isolated trading centres dependent on an indigenous host-nation. This reflected the primary purpose of the Dutch colonial empire: commercial exchange as opposed to sovereignty over homogeneous landmasses.
Sinterklaas is one of the sources of the popular Christmas icon of Santa Claus.
Santa Claus, also known as Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas, Kris Kringle, or simply Santa, is a legendary figure originating in Western Christian culture who is said to bring gifts to the homes of well-behaved children on the night of Christmas Eve and the early morning hours of Christmas Day. The modern Santa Claus grew out of traditions surrounding the historical Saint Nicholas, the British figure of Father Christmas and the Dutch figure of Sinterklaas. Some maintain Santa Claus also absorbed elements of the Germanic god Wodan, who was associated with the pagan midwinter event of Yule and led the Wild Hunt, a ghostly procession through the sky.
Sinterklaas is based on the historical figure of Saint Nicholas (270–343), a Greek bishop of Myra in present-day Turkey. He is depicted as an elderly, stately and serious man with white hair and a long, full beard. He wears a long red cape or chasuble over a traditional white bishop's alb and sometimes red stole, dons a red mitre and ruby ring, and holds a gold-coloured crosier, a long ceremonial shepherd's staff with a fancy curled top.
Myra was an ancient Greek, then Roman Greek, then Byzantine Greek, then Ottoman Greek town in Lycia, which became the small Turkish town of Kale, renamed Demre in 2005, in the present-day Antalya Province of Turkey. In 1923 its Greek inhabitants had been required to leave by the Population exchange between Greece and Turkey, at which time its church was finally abandoned. It was founded on the river Myros, in the fertile alluvial plain between Alaca Dağ, the Massikytos range and the Aegean Sea.
The chasuble is the outermost liturgical vestment worn by clergy for the celebration of the Eucharist in Western-tradition Christian churches that use full vestments, primarily in Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Lutheran churches. In the Eastern Orthodox Churches and in the Eastern Catholic Churches, the equivalent vestment is the phelonion.
The alb, one of the liturgical vestments of the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, and Methodist churches, is an ample white garment coming down to the ankles and is usually girdled with a cincture. It is simply the long, white linen tunic used by the ancient Romans.
He traditionally rides a white horse. In the Netherlands, the horse is called Amerigo, and in Belgium, it is named Slecht weer vandaag, meaning "bad weather today"or Mooi weer vandaag ("nice weather today") .
Sinterklaas carries a big, red book in which is written whether each child has been good or naughty in the past year.
Sinterklaas is assisted by Zwarte Piet ("Black Pete"), a helper dressed in Moorish attire and in blackface. Zwarte Piet first appeared in print as the nameless servant of Saint Nicholas in Sint-Nikolaas en zijn knecht ("St. Nicholas and His Servant/Apprentice"), published in 1850 by Amsterdam schoolteacher Jan Schenkman; however, the tradition appears to date back at least as far as the early 19th Century.Zwarte Piet's colourful dress is based on 16th-century noble attire, with a ruff (lace collar) and a feathered cap. He is typically depicted carrying a bag which contains candy for the children, which they toss around, a tradition supposedly originating in the story of Saint Nicholas saving three young girls from prostitution by tossing golden coins through their window at night to pay their dowries.
Traditionally, he would also carry a birch rod (Dutch: roe), a chimney sweep's broom made of willow branches, used to spank children who had been naughty. Some of the older Sinterklaas songs make mention of naughty children being put in Zwarte Piet's bag and being taken back to Spain. This part of the legend refers to the times that the Moors raided the European coasts, and as far as Iceland, to abduct the local people into slavery. This quality can be found in other companions of Saint Nicholas such as Krampus and Père Fouettard.In modern versions of the Sinterklaas feast, however, Zwarte Piet no longer carries the roe and children are no longer told that they will be taken back to Spain in Zwarte Piet's bag if they have been naughty.
Over the years many stories have been added, and Zwarte Piet has developed from a rather unintelligent helper into a valuable assistant to the absent-minded saint. In modern adaptations for television, Sinterklaas has developed a Zwarte Piet for every function, such as a head Piet (Hoofdpiet), a navigation Piet (Wegwijspiet) to navigate the steamboat from Spain to the Netherlands, a gift-wrapping Piet (Pakjespiet) to wrap all the gifts, and an acrobatic Piet to climb roofs and chimneys.
Traditionally Zwarte Piet's face is said to be black because he is a Moor from Spain.Today, some prefer to say that his face is blackened with soot because he has to climb through chimneys to deliver gifts for Sinterklaas.
The figure of Zwarte Piet is considered by some to be racist. Accordingly, the traditions surrounding the holiday of Sinterklaas have been the subject of numerous editorials, debates, documentaries, protests and even violent clashes at festivals.Some large cities and television channels now only display Zwarte Piet characters with some soot marks on the face rather than full blackface, so-called roetveegpieten or schoorsteenpieten ("chimney Petes"). Nevertheless, both Zwarte Piet and the holiday remain popular in the Netherlands.
In a 2013 survey, 92% of the Dutch public did not perceive Zwarte Piet as racist or associate him with slavery, and 91% were opposed to altering the character's appearance.In a similar survey in 2018, between 80 and 88% of the Dutch public did not perceive Zwarte Piet as racist, and between 41 and 54% were happy with the character's modernized appearance (a mix of roetveegpieten and blackface).
The festivities traditionally begin each year in mid-November (the first Saturday after 11 November), when Sinterklaas "arrives" by a steamboat at a designated seaside town, supposedly from Spain. In the Netherlands this takes place in a different port each year, whereas in Belgium it always takes place in the city of Antwerp. The steamboat anchors, then Sinterklaas disembarks and parades through the streets on his horse, welcomed by children cheering and singing traditional Sinterklaas songs.His Zwarte Piet assistants throw candy and small, round, gingerbread-like cookies, either kruidnoten or pepernoten , into the crowd. The event is broadcast live on national television in the Netherlands and Belgium.
Following this national arrival, every other town celebrates its own intocht van Sinterklaas (arrival of Sinterklaas). Local arrivals usually take place later on the same Saturday of the national arrival, the next Sunday (the day after he arrives in the Netherlands or Belgium), or one weekend after the national arrival. In places a boat cannot reach, Sinterklaas arrives by train, horse, horse-drawn carriage or even a fire truck.
Sinterklaas is said to come from Spain, possibly because in 1087, half of Saint Nicholas' relics were transported to the Italian city of Bari, which later formed part of the Spanish Kingdom of Naples. Others suggest that mandarin oranges, traditionally gifts associated with St. Nicholas, led to the misconception that he must have been from Spain. This theory is backed by a Dutch poem documented in 1810 in New York and provided with an English translation:
Saint Nicholas, good holy man!
The text presented here comes from a pamphlet that John Pintard released in New York in 1810. It is the earliest source mentioning Spain in connection to Sinterklaas. Pintard wanted St. Nicholas to become patron saint of New York and hoped to establish a Sinterklaas tradition. Apparently he got help from the Dutch community in New York, that provided him with the original Dutch Sinterklaas poem. Strictly speaking, the poem does not state that Sinterklaas comes from Spain, but that he needs to go to Spain to pick up the oranges and pomegranates. So the link between Sinterklaas and Spain goes through the oranges, a much appreciated treat in the 19th century. Later the connection with the oranges got lost, and Spain became his home.
In the weeks between his arrival and 5 December, Sinterklaas also visits schools, hospitals and shopping centers. He is said to ride his white-grey horse over the rooftops at night, delivering gifts through the chimney to the well-behaved children. Traditionally, naughty children risked being caught by Black Pete, who carried a jute bag and willow cane for that purpose.
Before going to bed, children put their shoes next to the fireplace chimney of the coal-fired stove or fireplace (or in modern times close to the central heating radiator). They leave the shoe with a carrot or some hay in it and a bowl of water nearby "for Sinterklaas' horse", and the children sing a Sinterklaas song. The next day they find some candy or a small present in their shoes.
Typical Sinterklaas treats traditionally include mandarin oranges, pepernoten, speculaas (sometimes filled with almond paste), banketletter (pastry filled with almond paste) or a chocolate letter (the first letter of the child's name made out of chocolate), chocolate coins, suikerbeest (animal-shaped figures made of sugary confection), and marzipan figures. Newer treats include gingerbread biscuits or and a figurine of Sinterklaas made of chocolate and wrapped in colored aluminum foil.
In the Netherlands, Saint Nicholas' Eve, 5 December, became the chief occasion for gift-giving during the winter holiday season. The evening is called Sinterklaasavond ("Sinterklaas evening") or Pakjesavond ("gifts evening", or literally "packages evening").
On the evening of 5 December, parents, family, friends or acquaintences pretend to act on behalf of "Sinterklaas", or his helpers, and fool the children into thinking that "Sinterklaas" has really given them presents. This may be done through a note that is "found", explaining where the presents are hidden, as though Zwarte Piet visited them and left a burlap sack of presents with them. Sometimes a neighbor will knock on the door (pretending to be a Zwarte Piet) and leave the sack outside for the children to retrieve; this varies per family. When the presents arrive, the living room is decked out with them, much as on Christmas Day in English-speaking countries. On 6 December "Sinterklaas" departs without any ado, and all festivities are over.
In the Southern Netherlands and Belgium, most children have to wait until the morning of 6 December to receive their gifts, and Sinterklaas is seen as a festivity almost exclusively for children. The shoes are filled with a poem or wish list for Sinterklaas and carrots, hay or sugar cubes for the horse on the evening of the fifth and in Belgium often a bottle of beer for Zwarte Piet and a cup of coffee for Sinterklaas are placed next to them. Also in some areas, when it is time for children to give up their pacifier, they place it into his or her shoe ("safekeeping by Sinterklaas") and it is replaced with chocolate the next morning.
The present is often creatively disguised by being packaged in a humorous, unusual or personalised way. This is called a surprise (from the French ).
Poems from Sinterklaas usually accompany gifts, bearing a personal message for the receiver. It is usually a humorous poem which often teases the recipient for well-known bad habits or other character deficiencies.
In recent years, influenced by North-American media and the Anglosaxian Christmas tradition, when the children reach the age where they get told "the big secret of Sinterklaas", some people will shift to Christmas Eve or Christmas Day for the present giving. Older children in Dutch families where the children are too old to believe in Sinterklaas anymore, also often celebrate Christmas with presents instead of pakjesavond. Instead of such gifts being brought by Sinterklaas, family members ordinarily draw names for an event comparable to Secret Santa. Because of the popularity of his "older cousin" Sinterklaas, Santa Claus is however not commonly seen in the Netherlands and Belgium.
Hélène Adeline Guerber and others have drawn parallels between Sinterklaas and his helpers and the Wild Hunt of Wodan or Odin,a major god among the Germanic peoples, who was worshipped in Northern and Western Europe prior to Christianization. Riding the white horse Sleipnir he flew through the air as the leader of the Wild Hunt, always accompanied by two black ravens, Huginn and Muninn. Those helpers would listen, just like Zwarte Piet, at the chimney – which was just a hole in the roof at that time – to tell Wodan about the good and bad behaviour of the mortals. Due to its speculative character, however, this older "Germanic" theory has little support among present-day scholars, although it continues to be popular in non-scholarly sources. At the same time, it seems clear that the Saint Nicholas tradition contains a number of elements that are not ecclesiastical in origin.
The Sinterklaasfeest arose during the Middle Ages. The feast was both an occasion to help the poor, by putting money in their shoes (which evolved into putting presents in children's shoes) and a wild feast, similar to Carnival, that often led to costumes, a "topsy-turvy" overturning of daily roles, and mass public drunkenness.
In early traditions, students elected one of their classmates as "bishop" on St. Nicholas Day, who would rule until 28 December (Innocents Day), and they sometimes acted out events from the bishop's life. As the festival moved to city streets, it became more lively.
During the Reformation in 16th- and 17th-century Europe, Protestant reformers like Martin Luther changed the Saint gift bringer to the Christ Child or Christkindl and moved the date for giving presents from 6 December to Christmas Eve. Certain protestant municipalities and clerics forbade Saint Nicholas festivities, as the Protestants wanted to abolish the cult of saints and saint adoration, while keeping the midwinter gift-bringing feast alive.
After the successful revolt of the largely Protestant northern provinces of the Low Countries against the rule of Roman Catholic king Philip II of Spain, the new Calvinist regents, ministers and clericals prohibited celebration of Saint Nicholas. The newly independent Dutch Republic officially became a Protestant country and abolished public Catholic celebrations. Nevertheless, the Saint Nicholas feast never completely disappeared in the Netherlands. In Amsterdam, where the public Saint Nicholas festivities were very popular, main events like street markets and fairs were kept alive with persons impersonating Nicholas dressed in red clothes instead of a bishop's tabard and miter. The Dutch government eventually tolerated private family celebrations of Saint Nicholas' Day, as can be seen on Jan Steen's painting The Feast of Saint Nicholas .
In the 19th century, the saint emerged from hiding and the feast became more secularized at the same time.The modern tradition of Sinterklaas as a children's feast was likely confirmed with the illustrated children's book Sint-Nicolaas en zijn knecht ('Saint Nicholas and his servant'), written in 1850 by the teacher Jan Schenkman (1806–1863). Some say he introduced the images of Sinterklaas' delivering presents by the chimney, riding over the roofs of houses on a grey horse, and arriving from Spain by steamboat, which at that time was an exciting modern invention. Perhaps building on the fact that Saint Nicholas historically is the patron saint of the sailors (many churches dedicated to him have been built near harbors), Schenkman could have been inspired by the Spanish customs and ideas about the saint when he portrayed him arriving via the water in his book. Schenkman introduced the song Zie ginds komt de stoomboot ("Look over yonder, the steamboat is arriving"), which is still popular in the Netherlands.
In Schenkman's version, the medieval figures of the mock devil, which later changed to Oriental or Moorish helpers, was portrayed for the first time as black African and called Zwarte Piet (Black Peter).
During the German occupation of the Netherlands (1940–1945) many of the traditional Sinterklaas rhymes were rewritten to reflect current events.The Royal Air Force (RAF) was often celebrated. In 1941, for instance, the RAF dropped boxes of candy over the occupied Netherlands. One classical poem turned contemporary was the following:
Sinterklaas, little capon,
R.A.F. little Capon,
This is a variation of one of the best-known traditional Sinterklaas rhymes, with "RAF" replacing "Sinterklaas" in the first line (the two expressions have the same metrical characteristics in the first and second, and in the third and fourth lines). The Dutch word kapoentje (little rascal) is traditional to the rhyme, but in this case it also alludes to a capon. The second line is straight from the original rhyme, but in the third and fourth line the RAF is encouraged to drop bombs on the Moffen (slur for Germans, like "krauts" in English) and candy over the Netherlands. Many of the Sinterklaas poems of this time noted the lack of food and basic necessities, and the German occupiers having taken everything of value; others expressed admiration for the Dutch Resistance.
Originally Sinterklaas was only accompanied with one (or sometimes two) Zwarte Pieten, but just after the liberation of the Netherlands, Canadian soldiers organized a Sinterklaas party with many Zwarte Pieten, and ever since this has been the custom, each Piet normally having his own dedicated task.
In Curaçao, Dutch-style Sinterklaas events are organized to this day. The Zwarte Piet characters have their faces painted all the colours of the rainbow. Prime Minister Ivar Asjes has spoken negatively of the tradition.In 2011, the government of Gerrit Schotte threatened to withdraw the grant for the Dutch tradition after the Curaçaoan activist Quinsy Gario was arrested, when he protested in Dordrecht against the use of Zwarte Piet.
Dutch-style Sinterklaas events are also organized in Suriname to this day.In 2011, opposition member of parliament and former president Ronald Venetiaan called for an official ban on Sinterklaas because he considers Zwarte Piet to be a racist element.
In 1970 the Surinamese playwright Eugène Drenthe envisioned the character of Gudu Ppa ("Father of Riches" in Sranantongo) as a postcolonial replacement of Sinterklaas. [ citation needed ]Instead of a white man, Gudu Ppa was black. His helpers symbolized Suriname's different ethnic groups, replacing Zwarte Piet. 5 December was officially renamed Kinderdag ("Children's Day") in Suriname. Although promoted by the military regime in the eighties, Gudu Ppa never really caught on.
Sinterklaas is the basis for the North American figure of Santa Claus. It is often claimed that during the American War of Independence, the inhabitants of New York City, a former Dutch colonial town (New Amsterdam), reinvented their Sinterklaas tradition, as Saint Nicholas was a symbol of the city's non-English past. – a creation others would later dress up as Santa Claus.In the 1770s the New York Gazetteer noted that the feast day of "St. a Claus" was celebrated "by the descendants of the ancient Dutch families, with their usual festivities." In a study of the "children's books, periodicals and journals" of New Amsterdam, the scholar Charles Jones did not find references to Saint Nicholas or Sinterklaas. Not all scholars agree with Jones' findings, which he reiterated in a book in 1978. Howard G. Hageman, of New Brunswick Theological Seminary, maintains that the tradition of celebrating Sinterklaas in New York existed in the early settlement of the Hudson Valley. He agrees that "there can be no question that by the time the revival of St. Nicholas came with Washington Irving, the traditional New Netherlands observance had completely disappeared." However, Irving's stories prominently featured legends of the early Dutch settlers, so while the traditional practice may have died out, Irving's St. Nicholas may have been a revival of that dormant Dutch strand of folklore. In his 1812 revisions to A History of New York, Irving inserted a dream sequence featuring St. Nicholas soaring over treetops in a flying wagon
But was Irving the first to revive the Dutch folklore of Sinterklaas? In New York, two years earlier John Pintard published a pamphlet with illustrations of Alexander Anderson in which he calls for making Saint Nicholas the patron Saint of New York and starting a Sinterklaas tradition. He was apparently assisted by the Dutch because in his pamphlet he included an old Dutch Sinterklaas poem with an English translation. In the Dutch poem, Saint Nicholas is referred to as 'Sancta Claus'. – freed of episcopal dignity and ties – via England and later Germany to Europe again.Ultimately, his initiative helped Sinterklaas to pop up as Santa Claus in the Christmas celebration, which returned
The Saint Nicholas Society of New York celebrates a feast on 6 December to this day. The town of Rhinebeck in Dutchess County, New York, which was founded by Dutch and German immigrants, has an annual Sinterklaas celebration. It includes Sinterklaas' crossing the Hudson River and then a parade to the center of town.
During the Reformation in 16th–17th-century Europe, many Protestants changed the gift bringer from Sinterklaas to the Christ Child or Christkindl (corrupted in English to Kris Kringle). Similarly, the date of giving gifts changed from 5 or 6 December to Christmas Eve.
In a scene in Miracle on 34th Street , a Dutch girl recognises Kris Kringle as Sinterklaas. They converse in Dutch and sing a Sinterklaas song while she sits on his lap, to the amazement of Susan Walker, who is then convinced that he is the real Santa Claus.[ citation needed ]
Sinterklaas has been the subject of a number of Dutch novels, films and television series, primarily aimed at children. Sinterklaas-themed children's films include Winky's Horse (2005) and the sequel Where Is Winky's Horse? (2007).
Sinterklaas-themed films aimed at adults include the drama Makkers Staakt uw Wild Geraas (1960), which won a Silver Bear award at the 11th Berlin International Film Festival; the romantic comedy Alles is Liefde (2007) and its Belgian remake Zot van A. (2010); and the Dick Maas-directed horror film Sint (2010).
De Club van Sinterklaas is a Sinterklaas-themed soap opera aimed at children. The popular television series has run since 1999 and has had a number of spin-off series. Since 2001, a Sinterklaas "news" program aimed at children is broadcast daily on Dutch television during the holiday season, the Sinterklaasjournaal. The Dutch-Belgian Nickelodeon series Slot Marsepeinstein has aired since 2009.
Much of the first half of A War of Gifts by Orson Scott Card is about the Sinterklaas tradition, including chapter 4 "Sinterklaas Eve" and 5 "Sinterklaas Day".
In the fourth episode of the television series The Librarians ("And Santa's Midnight Ride"), Santa (Bruce Campbell) is an "immortal avatar" who has existed in many different incarnations throughout history. After experiencing mistletoe poisoning, he briefly turns into Sinterklaas, using his magic to make toys appear in people's shoes, before regaining control of his current incarnation.[ citation needed ]
Sinterklaas also appeared in Sesamstraat , the Dutch version of Sesame Street .[ citation needed ]
Other holiday figures based on Saint Nicholas are celebrated in some parts of Germany and Austria (Sankt Nikolaus); Hungary (Mikulás); Switzerland (Samichlaus); Italy (San Nicola in Bari, South Tyrol, Alpine municipalities, and many others); parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia (Sveti Nikola); Slovenia (Sveti Nikolaj or Sveti Miklavž); Greece (Hagios Nikolaos); Romania (Moș Nicolae); Albania (Shën Kolli, Nikolli), among others. See further: Saint Nicholas Day.
|Look up sinterklaaslied in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
The companions of Saint Nicholas are a group of closely related figures who accompany Saint Nicholas throughout the territories formerly in the Holy Roman Empire or the countries that it influenced culturally. These characters act as a foil to the benevolent Christmas gift-bringer, threatening to thrash or abduct disobedient children. Jacob Grimm associated this character with the pre-Christian house spirit which could be benevolent or malicious, but whose mischievous side was emphasized after Christianization. The association of the Christmas gift-bringer with elves has parallels in English and Scandinavian folklore, and is ultimately and remotely connected to the modern Christmas elf in American folklore.
A Christmas stocking is an empty sock or sock-shaped bag that is hung on Saint Nicholas Day or Christmas Eve so that Saint Nicholas can fill it with small toys, candy, fruit, coins or other small gifts when he arrives. These small items are often referred to as stocking stuffers or stocking fillers. The tradition of the Christmas stocking is thought to originate from the life of Saint Nicholas. In some Christmas stories, the contents of the Christmas stocking are the only toys the child receives at Christmas from Santa Claus; in other stories, some presents are also wrapped up in wrapping paper and placed under the Christmas tree. Tradition in Western culture threatens that a child who behaves badly during the year will receive only a piece or pile of coal. Some people even put their Christmas stocking by their bedposts so Santa Claus can fill it by the bed while they sleep.
Père Noël, "Father Christmas", sometimes called Papa Noël, is a legendary gift-bringer at Christmas in France and other French-speaking areas, identified with the Father Christmas and/or Santa Claus of English-speaking territories. Though they were traditionally different, all of them are now the same character, with different names, and the shared characteristics of a red outfit, workshop at the North Pole, and team of reindeer.
Knecht Ruprecht is a companion of Saint Nicholas as described in the folklore of Germany. He first appears in written sources in the 17th century, as a figure in a Nuremberg Christmas procession.
Pfeffernüsse are tiny spice cookies, popular as a holiday treat in Germany, Denmark, and The Netherlands, as well as among ethnic Mennonites in North America. They are called pepernoten in Dutch (plural), päpanät in Plautdietsch, pfeffernuesse or peppernuts in English, and pebernødder in Danish.
De Club van Sinterklaas is a Dutch kids' soap opera based on the legend of Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet. The series follows a group of Black Pieten on their misadventures on their yearly way to the Netherlands. The series has a different subtitle every year in relation to the plot of the year. The show is incredibly popular in the Netherlands and has been the most successful show on the Dutch Jetix channel for several years and seems to be gaining in popularity with every season that comes by. Enormous merchandising has also appeared around the show over the years, ranging from CDs and DVDs to board games and collectible figures.
Belsnickel is a crotchety, fur-clad Christmas gift-bringer figure in the folklore of the Palatinate region of southwestern Germany along the Rhine, the Saarland, and the Odenwald area of Baden-Württemberg. The figure is also preserved in Pennsylvania Dutch communities.
Père Fouettard is a character who accompanies St. Nicholas on his rounds during St. Nicholas' Day dispensing lumps of coal and/or beatings to naughty children while St. Nicholas gives gifts to the well behaved. He is known mainly in the far north and eastern regions of France, in the south of Belgium, and in French-speaking Switzerland, although similar characters exist all over Europe. This "Whipping Father" was said to bring a whip with him to spank all of the naughty children who misbehaved.
The Feast of Saint Nicholas, is a painting by Dutch master Jan Steen, which can now be found in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. It measures 82 x 70.5 cm. The picture, painted in the chaotic Jan Steen "style," depicts a family at home on December 5, the night celebrated in the Netherlands as the Feast of Saint Nicholas, or Sinterklaas.
Below are some of common festivities associated with, or observed by the Dutch ethnic group. Included are cultural feasts. National holidays, of for example the Netherlands are omitted. Major festivities include:
In American, Canadian, Irish, and British cultures, a Christmas elf is a diminutive elf that lives with Santa Claus at the North Pole and acts as his helper. Christmas elves are often depicted as green or red clad with large, pointy ears and pointy hats. Santa's elves are often said to make the toys in Santa's workshop and take care of his reindeer, among other tasks.
Zwarte Piet is the companion of Saint Nicholas in the folklore of the Low Countries. The character first appeared in an 1850 book by Amsterdam schoolteacher Jan Schenkman. Traditionally, Zwarte Piet is black because he is a Moor from Spain. Those portraying Zwarte Piet usually put on blackface make-up and colourful Renaissance attire, in addition to curly wigs and bright red lipstick. In recent years, the character has become the subject of controversy.
Sint is a 2010 Dutch dark comedy horror film about Sinterklaas, the character on which the Anglo-Saxon Santa Claus is based. The film was directed by Dick Maas and marked his return to the horror genre, in which he gained acclaim with his debut De Lift (1983) and Amsterdamned (1988). The story distorts the popular traditions of Sinterklaas and portrays him as a ghost who murders large numbers of people when his annual celebration night coincides with a full moon.
Christmas in Hungary is celebrated with traditions similar to those found in other Central European countries as well as customs unique to the region.
A number of Midwinter or Christmas traditions in European folklore involve gift-bringers. Mostly involving the figure of a bearded old man, the traditions have mutually influenced one another, and have adopted aspects from Christian hagiography, even before the modern period. In Slavic countries, the figure is mostly Father Frost. In Scandinavia, it is an elf-like figure or tomten who comes at Yule . In Western Europe, the figure was also similar to an elf, developing into Father Christmas in the modern period in Great Britain. In German-speaking Europe and Latin Europe, it became associated with the Christian Saint Nicholas.
In Central European folklore, Krampus is a horned, anthropomorphic figure described as "half-goat, half-demon", who, during the Christmas season, punishes children who have misbehaved, in contrast with Saint Nicholas, who rewards the well-behaved with gifts. Krampus is one of the companions of Saint Nicholas in several regions including Austria, Bavaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Northern Italy including South Tyrol and the Province of Trento, Slovakia, and Slovenia. The origin of the figure is unclear; some folklorists and anthropologists have postulated it as having pre-Christian origins.
Hugo Matthysen is a Belgian (Flemish) singer, guitarist, columnist, writer, Master in Philosophy and actor. He lives in the municipality of Hove in Antwerp.
This article lists major events that happened in 2017 in the Netherlands.