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Netherlands, Sint Nicolaas' Eve

Yearly on the 5th of December

Children of the Netherlands and Belgium rejoice, put your shoes in front of the fireplace, sing your best song, because the Sint is in the country and presents are on the way. After a long boat trip from Spain, Sint Nicolaas and his helpers were welcomed in the Dutch harbor city of Schiedam (It is part of the Rotterdam metropolitan area) by thousands of children. His helpers called Black Pete's are already climbing the roofs with big bags full of presents in search for children who behaved well this year. Children who have been naughty better hide, because the Pete's will find you and take you back with them to Spain.

During the 5th of December the Dutch celebrate the birthday of saint Nicholas, a celebration closely resembling popular holidays like Santa Claus and Epiphany. The tradition can be dated back to Nicolaas of Myra, a Lycian Bishop from 13th century Greece, who helped needy children and later became known as the Children's saint. The origins of the modern festivities, with the arrival on a steamboat, helpers and presents can be dated back to the early 19th century.

The weeks leading up to the eve of saint Nicholas are full of fun events and the Sint and helpers will be making regular appearances all over the country. The festivities will especially be enjoyed with smaller children and last until the 5th of December. The last evening is usually spend with family and friends in front of the chimney were the presents will be exchanged. This is also the night that the Sint will once again return to Spain in order to prepare for next years celebration.

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