The kiddies here in Gent have been SO excited this week!  Why you ask?

Well, because here they celebrate “Sinterklaas” on December 6th.  Based on what I’ve been told via people at school, this is the BIG day for their children.  Before they go to sleep, they put their shoe out with either sugar or carrots for Sinterklaas and his helpers, Zwarte Piet (Black Peter).  *At school some mentioned beer…but, I think that’s for the parents.  🙂

In the morning, the good children awake to open their presents, while the bad children are stuffed into Zwarte Piet’s bag (seriously, how terrifying is that?!)!

Here is an article I read that really describes the holiday well.  You can make your own judgments about Zwarte Piet…and I’ll keep my comments to myself!’s-ancestor

Sinterklaas & Zwarte Piets


I was also curious if the children believed in Santa Claus as well.  Most people said that their children get presents on Dec 6th, 25th, and Jan 1st.  Um, seriously kids, ask your parents to move here…

***This Sunday we have the pleasure of going to a Sinterklaas party (for adults) hosted by some Dutch people.  I can’t wait to experience it firsthand!

7 responses

  1. The beer is for the Piet indeed, the sugar and carrot (or beet) is for Sinterklaas’s horse 🙂

    What I read in that article, that people are uncomfortable with the Zwarte Pieten, is new to me; as far as I know it’s not really an issue here, Zwarte Piet has always been black, that’s just how he is, it’s not really a racial thing or anything.

    To answer your question, children don’t believe in Santa Claus because we don’t really talk about him here, we only have Sinterklaas. Sinterklaas brings the presents on December 6th, but the presents we get (and give) at Christmas are from (and for) family (and sometimes friends), that’s something differently 🙂 We don’t usually get presents on New Year’s Day though, maybe some money from grandparents if they can’t help themselves but usually Sinterklaas and Christmas are the only two occasions for presents, in my experience.

    Dutch people celebrate it differently by the way, they do the giving each other presents thing (like we do here at Christmas) on Sinterklaas, at least that’s what I’ve understood from my Dutch friends 🙂

    I have long stopped believing in Sinterklaas of course, but my parents still give us chocolate and candy and we still say “thank you Sinterklaas” 😉 It’s just such a fun tradition and I remember vividly how unbelievably awesome it was to wake up in the morning, run downstairs and find the living room completely covered in chocolate, candy and presents! ^^ It’s also something a lot of people do at the workplace (like the chocolate Sinterklaas your husband got at work), or at schools or any other places. For grown-ups, Sinterklaas is just an excuse to eat lots of chocolate, whether you have children or not. 😀

    • Thank you for sharing your traditions! I grew up in Wisconsin and there is fair amount of Dutch and German settlers there. I actually grew up putting out my shoe on December 5th. We’d receive candy and maybe a small present (like a CD – of course, back in the day before ipods)! It’s interesting to hear where the tradition oriented. We called him, “St. Nick.”

      I think its great your parents still give you Sinterklaas presents. We always have a present under the tree on Christmas Day that says “From: Santa.” Just a cute way to keep the tradition going until we have other little children in the family!

  2. Pingback: Relaxing Friday in Gent | Expats In Ghent

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