Start the Christmas Festivities Early with a Visit from Sinterklaas, the Dutch Santa
My husband’s Dutch grandma taught me that my December 5 birthday is even more special than I knew. December 5 is Sinterklaas Eve!
Celebrated in the Netherlands from December 5-6, Sinterklaas Day is a fun way to start the Christmas season in the United States as we await December 25.
It’s also a lot easier than the Elf on the Shelf craze. Elf on the Shelf is fun, if you have unlimited energy. Parents who are looking for an alternative to Elf on the Shelf, though, can get the kids just as jazzed about Christmas with a celebration that culminates in one day of the season: Sinterklaas Day.
This year with the pandemic bearing down on us, many around the world could be stuck at home, missing out on key Christmas celebrations. Sinterklaas Day, though, is one event that you can celebrate, pandemic or not. And it’s super easy to do.
Sinterklaas Day is our Favorite, Easiest Christmas Tradition
Sinterklaas Day has long been a tradition for West Michigan families, as this area was heavily settled by Dutch immigrants. But really, Sinterklaas Day can be celebrated anywhere in the world, and you don’t even have to be Dutch to get in on the fun!
Each year my kids put out their winter boots (not made of wood like the Dutch do, but close enough!) filled with carrots and apples for Sinterklaas’ horse. In the morning they wake up to find these boots filled with special treats.
Sinterklaas is the OG Santa Claus
During the Revolutionary War in the late 1700’s, Dutch immigrants in New York City reinvented their tradition of Sinterklaas (Saint Nicholas) as a way of separating themselves from the Brits’ intended influence.
This Sinterklaas has turned into what American kids know as Santa Claus.
When I was a newlywed I was surprised to receive a chocolate initial from Grandma Rusty on my birthday. As she handed out an initial to each of her other grandchildren, she explained to me that this was a typical gift to give on Sinterklaas Day in the Netherlands.
Part of the celebration was an opportunity for Sinterklaas to help poor children by putting money in their shoes.
Sinterklaas Day has evolved into children in every household putting their wooden shoes by the chimney on the eve of December 5 in hopes that Sinterklaas would leave them special gifts when he visited in the night.