The Dutch are weird

Americans may be surprised to learn that certain parts of Europe celebrate an entirely different Santa Claus tradition.  In the Netherlands, Sin.terklaas is much more closely linked to a historical figure of a European bishop returning from Africa.  Every year the Christmas season here is started by the arrival of Santa Claus on a boat, still wearing his bishop’s hat in this largely protestant country.  He is accompanied by his helper Zwa.rte Piet.  There have been many debates about the historical meaning and contemporary implications of zw.arte piet and in general I have reservations.  However, in the spirit of enjoying our little city and seeing new things we met up with some friends to welcome Sint.erklaas on his boat (and for the cookies, of course).  And while Talia was more excited about the crowd than either the cookies or the songs or the parade, she loved seeing ELVIS:

And unlike the U.S. where children have to pay to meet Santa at the mall, after his grand arrival by boat and parade through town on a white horse, Santa continued his visit on foot wandering through the market where Talia and I were looking for good avocados:

With a more traditional Santa's helper and our friend Sarah (owner of the previously pictured rabbit Bertie).

At the parade. Talia very much enjoys having a crowd around her.

In case you couldn't tell in the earlier photos Talia spent the entire day in 'costume' as a bishop.

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3 Responses to “The Dutch are weird”

  1. the monkey's mama Says:

    Yay for Sin.terKlaas. As a 3/4 Dutch girl, we grew up with this tradition…yes, it is a little weird and my parents “dropped” the “helper” when we were in elementary school. ANyway, we have a little Sin.terKlaas caroler that looks EXACTLY like the man in your picture. Instant memory recall. Great times.

  2. Sarah Says:

    SOOO CUTE!! I especially like Talia the Bishop.

  3. Catherine Says:

    Hmmm… Talia enjoys being the center of attention. I wonder who she’s related to? Super cute pictures, Ariel. Hope you have a happy Thanksgiving.

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