Saint Nicolas Came Again....

Sinterklaas (Saint Nicolas) came again to the Netherlands from Spain last Saturday, 15 November. The official Sinterklaas, it means the Sinterklaas who was officialy organised by the Dutch government, came to Almere Haven. But hundred of other Sinterklaas-es came to other places, too, including to Weesp where we were last week. We came to Weesp every year to welcome the Sinterklaas. For the first two years I was waiting for the boat with Sinterklaas on it and his assistants, the Black Piets, to come. But this year its magic has disappeared and I asked my husband to take care of Dian and I went shopping nearby.

Then I sat in front of a bakery waiting for Dian and her friends to come, all of sudden I heard music and people danced everywhere. The atmosphere became very cheerful and happy. And I saw the Sinterklaas with his white horse, Amerigo. Spontaneously I made a lot of pictures and started to appreciate this Dutch culture. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, remembered all the songs and this celebration really touched the collective memory of the community. Most mayors involved in organizing the coming of Sinterklaas in their cities. The Mayor of Weesp gave a speech from the balcony of his office continued with the Sinterklaas. And everybody listened to them and even sang together some Sinterklaas classic songs. The children were so hypnotized by the old man in the red dress with a long white beard.

If it is not in the collective memory of the Dutch society then the Sinterklaas celebration will not be this merry. Since early November the Dutch television broadcasted "Sinterklaas Journal" everyday for the children. And on 5th December evening is called "Sinterklaas Pakjesavond" means Sinterklaas will visit every good-behaved child discreetly to deliver a present. The whole family will sit together, open the presents and exchanges personal poems for every member of the family, describing a funny character of a person or something special about this person.

I always thought that Sinterklaas celebration is a beautiful conspiration of adults ever in the Netherlands to make children happy. As long as a child still believe in Sinterklaas then the whole family automatically involve in this conspiracy to make sure that Sinterklaas really exists and visits the country all the way from the Spain. This month until early December every parents with small children will run around discreetly, too, to find presents for their children and pretend that the presents really come from the Sinterklaas.

In that evening after Sinterklaas came to Weesp, Dian put a shoe in front of our door before she went to bed. With a big carrot in it, because that what the Sinterklaas has asked the children to do. And the next morning when she woke up, she run to the door and found a small souvenir in the shoe and the carrot for Amerigo has gone. Dian got a cute bracelet from Sinterklaas. And on the evening of 5th December Sinterklaas will come again with another present, usually a bigger one.

It came to my mind probably we could create a story that the Sinterklaas would love to deliver the presents to less lucky children in poor countries. But how to insert this new scenario into the collective conspiration of the whole country?


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