Saturday, November 27, 2010

Sinterklaas in Oostvoorne

This morning we bundled up (it was actually snowing!!!) and headed to the center of Oostvoorne to see Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piete (Black Peter) arrive from Spain. Everyone in town was there! The story goes like this (according to wikipedia because I couldn't really get the whole official story from the family!):

Sinterklaas traditionally arrives in the Netherlands each year in mid-November (usually on a Saturday) by steamboat from Spain. Some suggest that gifts associated with the holy man, such as mandarin oranges, led to the misconception that he must have been from Spain. He parades through the streets on his gray horse Amerigo, welcomed by cheering and singing children.[5] This event is broadcast live on national television in the Netherlands and Belgium. His Zwarte Piet assistants throw candy and small, round, gingerbread-like cookies, either "kruidnoten" or "pepernoten," into the crowd. The children welcome him by singing traditional Sinterklaas songs. Sinterklaas visits schools, hospitals and shopping centers. After this arrival, all towns with a dock usually celebrate their 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, or even carriage or fire truck.
Traditionally, in the weeks between his arrival and 5 December, before going to bed, children put their shoes next to the fireplace chimney of the coal-fired stove or fireplace. In modern times, they may put them next to the central heating unit. 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 will find some candy or a small present in their shoes.
Typical Sinterklaas treats traditionally include: hot chocolate, mandarin oranges, pepernoten, letter-shaped pastry filled with almond paste or chocolate letter (the first letter of the child's name made out of chocolate), speculaas (sometimes filled with almond paste), chocolate coins and marzipan figures. Newer treats include kruidnoten (a type of shortcrust biscuit or gingerbread biscuits) and a figurine of Sinterklaas made of chocolate and wrapped in colored aluminum foil.

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