Sinterklaas Survival Guide

Almere Baby Club for Dutch & English

Sinterklaas Survival Guide (especially for Non-Dutch Parents) by Ranessa Chavez-Krause


























Sinterklaas or Sint Nicolaas. celebrates his birthday on 5th of December . But the festivity for his big day starts with the“intocht”, that is the day he arrives in the Netherlands around middle of November.



















Sailing from Spain and together with his “stoomboot” (steamboat) that is full of presents. Sinterklaas goes around from city to city, village to village and from one street to another on his white horse Amerigo, that has a red robe called “tabberd”.



What makes Sinterklaas different from Santa Claus?












This is a question that was hard for us to answer when our daughter became curious about Sinterklaas, if your child is in a Dutch speelzaal (playschool) or school – it is but inevitable to escape the hype of Sinterklaas… as I said it is the biggest event of the year for the kids here in The Netherlands. To answer our daughter's question, we simply said.. well… they are cousins Sinterklaas comes on 5th December and Santa Claus comes on the eve of 25th December for Kerst (Christmas), they share notes if you have been naughty or nice. Sometimes they share the present too (that's a rule we have at home that comes as another blog worthy story). So to make it easier for us to know, Sinterklaas has a “ staf” (gold crosier), a “mijter” (a mitre) and a “baard” (beard).

The most precious belonging that he have is a book that is called “het boek van Sinterklaas”, this contains all the information of children and how they behaved during the year this is a somewhat similar to Santa Claus right? Apperance wise, Sinterklaas is on a slimmer side while Santa Claus has a rounder shape.



Diving into Sinterklaas Celebration as Child – The Dutch Tradition

If Santa Claus rides around the globe a sled with the help of his reindeers and only has 24 hours at least Sinterklaas has more time ridig Amerigo from one rooftop to another – he has about 3 weeks+ which also means more gifts for the kids. Children may put once or twice a week, before they go to sleep, a shoe at the chimney or if the house doesn’t have a chimney they can also set their shoes by the radiator… since we do not have a radiator downstairs, we put ours at the hallway just directly by the door. This is practice is called “schoen zetten”, it is also but customary to prepare something nice for the horse like a carrot, an apple or some sugar cubes. We also leave a glass of milk for the Piet who climbs down the chimney and leaves the present or typical Sinterklaas sweet treats in/by the shoe. This is why Piet is Black thus he is called "Zwarte Piet". The typical Sinterklaas treats that makes the sweet tooth amongst party like a child are the pepernoten/kruidnoten, chocolade-letters, marsepein (marzipan), Speculaas, banketletters, taaitaai and borstplaat.


















Now follow this, if you want to give your child a Sinterklaas Pakjesavond experience

“Pakjesavond” is what we call the night of 5th of December a “pakje” is another word for a present wrapped in paper. On this night, after the dinner, which is usually the time that the family is complete - someone will suddenly loudly knock on the door or will throw “pepernoten” in the living room. Wait a few seconds and check the front door and you will find a big bag of presents.

For parents, you can talk to your neighbors for some little assistance.


Some facts about Sinterklaas

~ Sinterklaas is based on Saint Nicholas of Myra (now known as Antalya in Turkey), the patron Saint of children who lived in the 4th.

~ The celebration says he is from Spain because Saint Nicholas was re-burried in Bari Italy, that belonged to Spain when the celebration became popular.

~ Sinterklaas is also saint of the sailors and fishermen.

Any Sinterklaas celebration you go will not be a celebration without the singing and there´s a lot of Sinterklaas songs – like `heel veel` (so many). Liedjesland has created a Sinterklaas edition where they compiled a sing-along most known and widely sang Sinterklaas songs.



Sinterklaas Activities locally in Almere

Sinterklaas has already arrived here in Almere, have you seen him in the intocht in Stad, Buiten and Haven? That was a great experience aint it?


















ABCDE playgroup Sinterklaas Party (for all the members of the Playgroup)

On the 3rd of December, Sinterklaas & his team of Piets will be visiting us during the party! Come and enjoy the party and bring with you some snacks/nibbles/traditional party food from the country you come from.

Fee is: €2.50 per kid. Every child will be given a present!






















Sinterklaas Scavenger Hunt

The scavenger hunt is happening between 15 november and 4th of december in Buitencentrum Almeerderhout. Put on your hunting hats and bring your hunter instincts and search for the missing pakjes of Sinterklaas!


Outdoorpark Sec Survivals: Pietentraining by Survival Piet

From 12th november until 4th of december you can learn to be a real Piet with Outdoorpark Sec Survivals. Kids learn to climb, crawl and deliver presents the Piet style! If you do good you will receive a Pieten Diploma! This activity is fit for kids 5 years and up.



Credits:, VVV Almere, Kidsproof Almere, Liedjesland, Almere Nieuws





Is it your first time to be acquainted to the Dutch Sinterklaas Tradition and totally clueless to what´s going on? Why is there dark, clown-looking men dressed in a very colorful clothes walking around and throwing circular biscuits at you?? And you wanna run, but you wanna hmmmmnn try and know how that biscuit taste like and then suddenly a tall beared guy in red riding a white horse passes by in front of you and the people around you are singing and dancing and getting crazy. Well, you are not alone. That basically summed up what my first encounter was with Sinterklaas and His Piets. I was my luck that I am still not with a child back then.


If you are a Non-Dutch Parent and it´s your 1st time to experience the Sinterklaas celebration, You might have questions and still a little bit of confused on what and how to deal with the Sinterklaas festivities and all the traditions it brings - those that You and Your child may not yet be ready about and WHY is it that this is the biggest event of the year for the kids and the kids at heart alike.


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