Dutch term – Pakjesavond

Pakjesavond = "gift evening." Traditionally, Dutch families give gifts on St. Nicholas' Eve, on December 5th. Sinterklaas and his helpers, the Zwarte Pieten, will bring gifts for all the children and some of the adults too. "Santa Claus" is derived from the Dutch word "Sinterklaas." Read more about the differences and similarities about these red-robed men in the Sinterklaas article. … [Read more...]

Celebrating Sinterklaas

In the Netherlands, we celebrate St. Nicholas' Eve on the 5th of December. Sinterklaas arrives in the country about three weeks before, on his steam ship from Spain. He is accompanied by his helpers, the Zwarte Pieten [Black Petes] who pass out small spiced cookies called pepernoten and candy to the children. Sinterklaas then gets on his white horse and parades through town, cheered on by hundreds of young kids. My grandfather used to be Sinterklaas at the airbase where he worked and for … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Sinterklaas

Sinterklaas is the Dutch name for Saint Nicholas. The American tradition of Santa Claus stems from the Dutch celebrating Sinterklaas. What Sinterklaas and Santa Claus have in common is their love for children and sharing gifts. But it is interesting to compare the differences in the traditions: Sinterklaas Santa Claus Feast day December 5th (St. Nicholas' Eve) December 25th Mode of transportation Arrives on a steamship. Uses a horse┬áto get around after he … [Read more...]


I fondly watch the grainy movie on my HD-television. On the screen, the room has 70s wallpaper with a psychedelic orange/brown motive. A group of children watches excitedly as Saint Nicholas comes through the door. A baby is put in his lap. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cUk43JXhhDQ The baby is me, and my grandfather is Saint Nicholas. It was the last time he was able to be "Sinterklaas." I owe it to my mother that I am able to watch these images. She had the home movies from when I was a … [Read more...]