Sinterklaas, the Dutch St. Nicholas, plays a very special role in the Netherlands. As soon as the man with the red coat and the white beard appears on the scene in November, the starting signal for the Christmas season is given.

  • Experience the Sinterklaas arrival, which takes place all over the Netherlands.
  • Enjoy St. Nicholas treats that can be found in every Dutch supermarket.
  • Experience the coziness of St. Nicholas in Holland.

Update: Because of COVID-19 the entry of St. Nicholas (Sinterklaas) will take place in a secret place in 2021. This is unfortunately necessary, because no audience is allowed. But the entry can be on 13. November can be followed on NPO 3. In addition, each community organizes the move-in in its own way. So always check the website of the municipality in question to find out if there is a procession and to what extent it can be attended.

St. Sinterklaas arrives every year in mid-November from Spain on his steamship "Pakjesboot 12". On board, in addition to countless gifts, are his hard-working helpers, the "Pieten". Once Sinterklaas arrives in the Netherlands, children put their shoes in front of the fireplace or the door. In the night Sinterklaas rides on his white horse Amerigo over the roofs and puts small gifts in the shoes of the children. His helpers, the Pieten, support him in his work. Traditional sweets include gingerbread figurines, spice cookies (pepernotes), marzipan and chocolate letters. Indulge your sweet cravings: traditional Sinterklaas sweets are available at every Dutch supermarket and bakery.

5. December

The Sinterklaas holiday itself takes place on the evening of 5. December takes place (Pakjesavond). While parents and friends dressed as Sinterklaas and Piet visit the children, gifts are exchanged, songs are sung and sweets are eaten. Older children and adults draw lots before the holiday for people to give gifts to. The creatively wrapped gifts are often given with personalized poems that make the whole family smile.

In recent years there has been a lot of discussion about the appearance of the traditional Piet. Nowadays you see more and more colorful Piete, rainbow Piete and chimney Piete. Even unadorned piete.

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Gifts and poems

Older children and adults also celebrate the 5. December. In advance they draw lots with the name of someone for whom they buy a gift. The gifts are wrapped in such a way that you can’t see what’s inside and are often accompanied by funny poems full of puns, written especially for the recipient. These gifts are a perfect way to drive someone crazy for the whole family.

The arrival of Sinterklaas

Sinterklaas and his Pieten traditionally arrive by steamship from Spain. For the national arrival, a different city is chosen each year to welcome Sinterklaas. On the day of arrival, hundreds of children and adults gather to greet Sinterklaas and wave flags. In addition to the national arrival, almost all Dutch cities host their own "Sinterklaasintocht" (Sinterklaas arrival). Those who can not be there live, follow the live broadcast of the arrival on television or the Internet (for example, in the Sinterklaarjournaal).

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