Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Christmas comes early - St Nicholas' Day

Sander van der Wel
The Christmas decorations are up, Christmas cakes have been baked and it's finally safe to play Christmas music. There's less than three weeks until Christmas but you still have plenty of time to buy and wrap gifts...unless you celebrate Sinterklaas, the patron day of St Nicholas on 6 December.

According to Dutch tradition, Sinterklaas, or Saint Nicholas, arrives in the Netherlands from Spain each November for a visit that culminates in him delivering sweets and small gifts to well-behaved children on the night of 5 December. Naughty children risk being caught and punished by Zwarte Piet or Black Pete, Sinterklaas' servant, and his birch rod.

The tradition of Black Pete has been a source of considerable controversy in recent years, spawning debates, documentaries and protests over alleged racism. Nevertheless, Saint Nicholas' Eve has become the chief occasion for gift-giving in the Netherlands during the holiday season.

You can read more about the traditions and controversy of Sinterklaas via resources in the library catalogue.

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