Greetings everyone! Today is December 6th, Saint Nicholas (Sinterklaas in Dutch) Day here in Belgium. So I'm sharing some stories I know and a few pictures I took about this festival. Hope you will enjoy them! :)
各位好啊~ 今天是12月6号，在荷兰比利时卢森堡等地是传统的圣尼古拉斯节。尼古拉斯这个白胡子老人据说就是圣诞老人的原型哦！这篇文章我就结合今天刚拍的照片来分享一下这个节日的故事。（我和黑皮特白马合影的照片是挖坟6年前的...... 因为今天在街上只看到吃的~）
According to legend, Saint Nicholas is a patron saint of children. This older cousin of Santa Claus is especially popular in regions like the Netherlands, Belgium, northern France, part of Germany, Luxembourg and the former Dutch colonies including Suriname and Curaçao. In some other Christian countries such as Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania and USA, this tradition is also celebrated, but in varied ways.
Here in Belgium and the Netherlands, the main figures of this festival are Sinterklaas, his horse and Zwarte Piet (Black Pete), his helper.
这个节日在各个基督教国家有着不同的庆祝方式。在荷兰比利时这边，主要出场的有圣尼古拉斯 — 孩子的守护神，他的坐骑马儿和帮手 — 黑皮特。
As the primary source of Santa Claus (just think about it - New York City used to be New Amsterdam founded by the Dutch), Sinterklaas is depicted as an elderly man dressed in red, with white hair and beard.
Since I am curious about the differences between these 2 festive figures, I checked online and found this fun comparison:
👆 the 2 images are from the same source listed above
If you want a clearer vision, here's a form from Diffen.com :
The origin of Sinterklaas is the historical figure of Saint Nicholas (270 – 343), a Greek bishop. Now you see why there's always a cross pattern involved, be it a fabric decoration or a coffee cup.
Most believe that Sinterklaas comes from Spain, possibly because half of Saint Nicholas' relics were transported to Bari, the Italian city that formed part of the Spanish Kingdom of Naples later.
Sinterklaas carries a gold-coloured crosier and a big red book. From the book he can tell if the kids have been well-behaved or naughty in the past year.
His horse is called Amerigo in the Netherlands, and Slecht Weer Vandaag (meaning "Bad Weather Today", so true, haha, it's been gloomy today again... This also reminds me of "Friday" in Robinson Crusoe).
Sometimes you see the horse in white color, sometimes it's gray, you never know... But don't worry, it's only a legend anyway... and it's good, since as such you can get both white horse chocolate (more cocoa butter, very fat) and dark horse chocolate (more cocoa mass, still fat), isn't it? ;)
Zwarte Piet (Black Pete), the helper is said to be a Moor from Spain. So his face is usually painted black, and he wears colorful Moorish clothing with a feathered cap and a lace collar, based on 16th-century noble attire.
Or, to avoid the problem of being perceived as racist or associated with slavery, some people say that Zwarte Piet's face is blackened with soot when climbing through chimneys to deliver gifts for Sinterklaas.
Legend has it that Sinterklaas tossed golden coins through the window of 3 young girls to pay their dowries, so they were saved from prostitution. This could be why chocolates wrapped like gold coins are one of the traditional treats from Zwarte Piet's bag.
Except for climbing chimneys and offering treats, Zwarte Piet has been developed over the years as a multi-functional superman, who could help Sinterklaas in almost everything, such as navigating the steamboat from Spain to the Netherlands and Belgium, and wrapping all the gifts to children. So you normally see more than one Black Pete in colorful costume accompanying Sinterklaas. ;)
Arrival and Parade
到达 + 游行
Traditionally, in mid-November, children start to welcome the arrival of Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet by a steamboat from Spain. They reach Belgium at the port of Antwerp, while in the Netherlands, the arrival port can be different each year. For other towns without any ports, no worries, they arrive at the train station or anywhere convenient for a certain transportation tool. =)
During Sinterklaas' parade through the streets on his horse, Zwarte Piet helps him throw candies and round cookies (called kruidnoten or pepernoten) into the cheering and singing crowd. You can watch this popular event live on TV in the Netherlands and Belgium.
My Belgian families and friends told me about their sweet memories from childhood: on Saint Nicholas' Eve (evening of December 5th), most children put a shoe (or shoes if the kid wants more presents ;)) next to the fireplace or the central heating radiator. The shoe is usually filled with a carrot or some hay for the horse, a poem or wish list for Sinterklaas, and a bottle of beer for Zwarte Piet is placed next to the shoe. Sometimes they also offer a cup of coffee for Sinterklaas and sing a song. :)
The next morning the kids would be happily finding the shoe full of treats - typically include mandarin oranges, speculaas cookies, gingerbread biscuits, chocolate coins, marzipan figures and other sugary confection. Chocolate letter in the first letter of the child's name is also a pupolar present.
However, in most parts of the Netherlands, the gift-giving happens in the evening of December 5th (called Sinterklaasavond or Pakjesavond), and the treats from Sinterklaas are a bit different.
The treats I got today, not from a shoe but from a shop (reality bites in adults' world ;p) :
Guessing Game Time!
At last, let's play a little guessing game. What are these objects in the following photo I took?
The first Steemian who gives the correct answer gets 1 Steem, and the second person who gets it right will receive 0.5 Steem.
Ok, give it a go now! Tell me in the comment what they are:
except for the cited 2 cartoon pictures and 1 comparison form.
除了两张标明出处的卡通图和一张比较表，其他图文 by Donica多
Thank you for reading. Please tell me what you think in the comments. Until next time! =)
Here are some of my travel shots. Check out my travel posts on Steemit World Map, and follow me for more adventures around the globe!