Get ready! Coronavirus or not, that time of year is upon us when Sinterklaas (Saint Nicholas) makes his way to the Netherlands. Here are some details about his arrival and presence in 2020.
WHO/WHAT IS SINTERKLAAS?
After King’s Day, Sinterklaas is the Netherlands’ most important celebration. Sint and his helper, called Piet (Pete), bring presents to all children on December 5 to celebrate his birthday. Read all about him here.
Due to the coronavirus, the official National Sinterklaas intocht 2020 (arrival) will be held in a secret place to prevent a large mass of interested people getting drawn to the arrival. The big yearly celebration will be broadcast on television on Saturday, November 14th, 12PM on NPO Zapp/NPO 3.
The arrival of Sinterklaas in Amsterdam will also be broadcast on television but just like the official National arrival, nobody will be allowed to be present at the arrival. The broadcast will be on Sunday, November 15th on AT5.
Starting November 9th more details will become available about the arrival of Sinterklaas from the official organisation, Sint in Amsterdam.
Please, DO NOT try to find out the secret locations for the Sinterklaas arrivals and attend them nor petition to make the arrivals open to the public. We are in a global pandemic and the coronavirus guidelines are clear, which makes it obvious that right now is not the time for large public events like the arrival of Sinterklaas.
KEEPING UP WITH SINTERKLAAS
Every year, kids can follow Sinterklaas’ progress on his annual travels to the Netherlands and the challenges upon arrival by watching the daily Sinterklaas Journaal on NTR/NPO Zapp.
WHAT’S UP WITH PIET?
Piet (Pete) is Sinterklaas’ companion and helper in Dutch and Belgian folklore.
Originally Piet (Pete) was called Zwarte Piet (Black Pete). However, in 2019 the official National Sinterklaas organisation decided to drop the blackface and have Sinterklaas only be accompanied by so-called Chimney Pieten. A move that was also followed by Het Sinterklaas Journaal and many celebrations in different municipalities in the Netherlands.
THE HORSE OF SINTERKLAAS
When Sinterklaas arrives in the Netherlands, he usually travels on his white horse. Over the years, this famous horse has changed and has had several names but since 1990, Sinterklaas’ horse was Amerigo. However, last year (2019), Amerigo retired after serving for over 30 years and Ozosnel made its debut during the official National Sinterklaas arrival of 2019. The name of Ozosnel was derived from the Sinterklaas song “Hoor de wind waait door de bomen” (“Hear the wind blowing through the trees”), in which the passage “Ja hij rijdt in donkere nachten op zijn paardje, oh zo snel” (“Yes,on dark nights, he rides on his horse, oh so fast”) is sung.
LETTER FROM SINTERKLAAS
As always, kids can send a letter to Sinterklaas and receive a reply from Sinterklaas. Weverkeshof is continuing the tradition this year, although Sinterklaashof itself will stay closed for the public.
To send a letter to Sinterklaas, please send letter by December 5th with a stamp to get a letter back. Please note if you want to receive a reply before Pakjesavond, your letter has to be received by December 1st. Here is the address:
5670 AJ Nuenen
QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS?
The Amsterdam Mamas Facebook group administrators will make sure to post more links and information on when to put the shoe out (and how often), Santa Claus vs Sinterklaas, what presents to buy etc. We will also have our annual thread where you can share pictures of when you spotted Sinterklaas and/or of Sinterklaas’ celebrations. Pictures of Sinterklaas at school and how he arrived are always a HIT! However, be aware that pictures with controversial Zwarte Piet will have to be removed due to Facebook’s blackface rules.
Fijne Sinterklaas allemaal!
Photo Credit: Picture taken from the Dutch National Archives. November 21st, 1953: Sinterklaas arrival in Amsterdam. Prinses Margriet standing with Majestuoso, the horse of Sinterklaas.