First snow and Sinterklaas

The first photos I took yesterday, when the first snow fell. Well there was a little snow in the weekend too but not really enough that it would stay, it melted immediately. By the time I went outside, most was already melting yesterday too.

I like the one above. The original photo was all white, but because of some editing it became like this. I like how the corners are rounded, is this showing the roundness of the lens? I don’t know what or how but I like it. And notice the heart form of the snow flake in the middle!

The next three I took this morning. It seems it snow quite at night. A lot for the first snow in Flanders, that is.

This last one shows all I got from Sinterklaas. Wait, Sinterklaas? Who is this?

Well Sinterklaas is the one you see on the first picture. He is a Saint, and in fact Sinterklaas is the basis for the North American figure of Santa Claus was based on this guy. So Sinterklaas was first. Now, for telling you the right facts about him, not based on what I remember about him, let’s ask Wikipedia…

Sinterklaas [sɪntər’klaːs] is a traditional winter holiday figure still celebrated today in the Low Countries, including the Netherlands and Belgium, as well as French Flanders and Artois. He is also well known in territories of the former Dutch Empire, including Aruba, Suriname, Curaçao, Bonaire, and Indonesia. He is one of the sources of the holiday figure of Santa Claus in North America.

Although he is usually referred to as Sinterklaas, he is also known as De Goedheiligman (The Good Holy Man), Sint Nicolaas [sɪnt ‘nikolaːs] (Saint Nicholas) or simply as De Sint (The Saint).

He is celebrated annually on Saint Nicholas’ eve (5 December) in the Netherlands or on the morning of 6 December in Belgium and Northern France. Originally, the feast celebrates the name day of Saint Nicholas – patron saint of children, sailors, and the city of Amsterdam, among others. Saint Nicholas being a bishop and this geographical spread make clear that the feast in this form has a Roman Catholic background.

Basically the man arrives from Spain a few weeks before his birthday (6 December) by steamboat. This is a big event, broadcast live on national television in Belgium and the Netherlands. He brings his horse Amerigo (or in Belgium Slecht Weer Vandaag – Bad Weather Today) and his Zwarte Pieten (Black Petes), who throw candy into the crowd. Children welcome him by singing Sinterklaas songs. He visits schools, hospitals and many other public places.

After the big arrival, all towns with a dock usually celebrate their own intocht van Sinterklaas (arrival of Sinterklaas). In places a boat cannot reach, Sinterklaas arrives by train, horse, or even carriage or fire truck.

The night before Sinterklaas arrives, children put their shoes next to the fireplace chimney or the coal-fired stove or fireplace (in modern times they may put them next to the central heating). We always put our shoes with a coffee for De Sint, a beer for Zwarte Piet and a carrot and sugar cube for Slecht Weer Vandaag, and we sang Sinterklaas songs. The next day candy and presents are found in the shoes. Typical treats are chocolate, mandarin oranges, pepernoten (gingerbread biscuits), a chocolate letter, speculaas, chocolate coins and marzipan.

Modern treats, or what I got: Kinder Surprise, Chokotoff (chocolate filled with some chocolate caramel thing, it’s DELICIOUS!), ABC-cookies, Fruit-tella, speculaas, a chocolate figurine and hosties (the 4th photos on the left). Except for Kinder Surprise all other things are Belgian specialties!

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One thought on “First snow and Sinterklaas

  1. Pingback: September and December 2012 | yoooya

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