How to celebrate Sinterklaas?

How to celebrate Sinterklaas?

How to celebrate Sinterklaas?

Sinterklaas arrived in the country on November 15th by steamboat from Spain. From this day children may put their shoe near the chimney (or below a window, if there is no chimney) at night before they go to bed. They sing special Sinterklaas songs and leave a carrot for the horse and glass of water and an apple for Piet – the helpers of Sinterklaas. ‘Listening Piet’ listens through the chimney to check if the children sing well.

The children often also leave their wish list and a drawing or another self-made present for Sinterklaas in their shoe. Then at night Sinterklaas rides his horse on the roofs of the houses and Piet climbs through the chimney, puts a present in the shoes, and takes the carrot and the other things. The presents are small, as they have to fit into a children’s shoe. The parents decide how often the children may put their shoe, usually twice per week or so.

On the 5th of December is Sinterklaas’ birthday. Then the children get bigger presents for ‘Pakjesavond’. Usually in the afternoon/evening the bell rings and Piet has left a big bag with presents on the doorstep. You can come up with all kinds of variations on this. My parents used to hide the presents through the house, and let us find a note or one present in an obvious place, so we would understand we had to search for the other presents. In that case ‘hiding Piet’ had hidden the presents.

Sinterklaas and/or his Pieten often go to parties where there are a lot of children (daycares, schools, libraries, etc.). The children sing songs and get ‘pepernoten’ (ginger nuts). Sinterklaas brings with him his big, heavy book with all the names of all children in the entire country. In this book he reads whether a child has been good that year (always the case), and what his/her hobbies and interests are. Then s/he gets a small present.

The story tells that the adults are a bit jealous that they don’t get presents from Sinterklaas, and therefore they celebrate their own party. They make a ‘surprise’ (a handcrafted present) and write a poem for someone whose name they have picked at random (lootjes trekken).

Of course you are free to do and tell your children whatever you find applicable. Above is just a description of this tradition and everyone has his/her take on it.

Interested in more?

On you can follow the everyday story of Sinterklaas in the Netherlands. They have also added dedicated games and songs.

Some nice ideas for Sinterklaas arts & crafts you can find here:

Do you need help finding rhyming words in Dutch for your Sinterklaas poem? Look here: Ready-made poems, sorted by present you’ll find here:



Recommended Posts