Monday, 5 December 2016


Sinterklaas is surrounded by a large number of traditions that are often hundreds of years old, like many other folk and traditional holidays. Sinterklaas food like "pepernoten" and "speculaaspoppen" , we put our shoes at the chimney and we must be careful that we do not disappear into the bag of Black Piet. But where do these traditions come from?

The bag of Sinterklaas 

Like many on the Christian faith-based celebrations Sinterklaas has a number of acquired traditions by the Germans. For example the use of the bag comes from. Many Germanic tribes actually had a ritual for the coming of age of older boys. They were overnight abducted by adult male tribesmen and put in a bag to test their bravery. Probably this is where the story of the sack of Saint  comes from, that naughty children were taken to Spain in the bag.

Putting shoe by chimney

This was done in the 15th century on Christmas Eve and was meant for the poor. Children put their shoe on December 5th at the church, after which the shoes were filled by the rich. The contents of the shoes a day later, on December 6 was the anniversary of Saint Nicholas, distributed among the poor. In the 16th century people began putting taking children home their shoes where they were filled by their parents with toys and sweets.

St. Nicolas Evening by Jan Steen approximately 1665


The Sinterklaas celebration as we know it will only be further celebrated in Belgium. Although it has remained children's feast there, without a "pack evening" with surprises and poems. Children put there only once their shoe and will never find a chocolate letter in it - crazy, because Belgians love their chocolate, but maybe that explains enough. Neither the "pepernoot" (gingerbread nut) is known in Belgium.
Pakjesavond is from the fifties and sixties of the last century. Adult give each other a "surprise" (French, pronounce: surpriese). Something that is made from old stuff that is not what it looks like. It is accompanied by a poem. In that poem often the recipient of the gift is confronted with all the naughty or stupid things he or she has done this year.
For the smaller kids Sinterklaas brings a bag full of toys and other stuff they have put on their wishing list. 

Sinterklaas always knows what the little kids want most. 

Look what I got this year from Sinterklaas:


  1. Traditions are so important, I love seeing my children pass on the ones that were passed on to them. Learning about other culture's traditions should be a required class...might make us all more tolerant.
    hugs abby

    1. Wise words of tolerance and tradition Abby, wish I had said them...


  2. I agree with Abby...traditions are very important. I love watching my oldest son pass some of our traditions on to my grands, incorporating some of my DILs traditions and creating some of their own. I love learning traditions, history and recipes from other countries. Thank you for sharing.

    Hugs and blessings...Cat

    1. Isn't it wonderful that we pass on traditions and to see our children do the things we did?
      Thank YOU for sharing, Cat,


  3. oh, the glorious memories of childhood!!
    Thank you, Han.
    Have a nice Sinterklaas!!

    Mona Lisa

    1. Childhood memories seems to last a lifetime, Mona Lisa. Our Sinterklaas was wonderful!



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