Sinterklaas

I have lots to write about, but every time I get the time to write (usually after 8pm) I have lost the will. Things I want to post about in the near future:

  • God’s Catch-22: thinking about what the Almighty is to do about the fact that we want him to rescue us, but we don’t want him telling us what to do.  Are the two related?
  • Free will in the afterlife: Gregory McDonald, pseudonymous author of The Evangelical Universalist, proposes that when humans are confronted with the full glory and majesty of God they will choose God.  Does this interfere with free will?  I propose that the traditional view of the afterlife has a similar position as McDonald’s, only not universalist.
  • Is everything in the Bible meant for everyone?  More specifically, are all of Jesus’ words and commands applicable to everyone, or are some of them applicable to only specific people, such as his (then) disciples?
  • Christian idealism.  I preached on this a couple of months ago and that didn’t get it out of my system.  Should we be idealists?  Is it even possible in our pessimistic, “realist” society to discuss the topic?

As it is, I have 29 drafts calling for either development or trashing.

But, in lieu of writing…anything else, you’ll note that today is the eve of the Dutch (and Belgian) celebration of “Sinterklaas“.  Sinterklaas is essentially the Dutch Christmas.  For some reason I always thought that today (Dec. 5) was Sinterklaas, but it is actually tomorrow.  (I was 7 years old when we moved to Canada, so some of the details of the celebrations are hazy).

Sinterklaas, or Sint Nicolaas (Saint Nick), is the Dutch equivalent of Santa Claus.  In fact, they probably have similar roots, with the myth of Santa Claus being much farther removed from its source.  Sinterklaas looks more like a holy man (he has a hat similar to the Pope’s) than a fat buffon (as per Santa Claus), which is to be expected, since he is based on the actual Saint Nicholas, the patron saint of children.

Sint Nicolaas’ home is in Spain (as opposed to the North Pole) and each year he comes to Holland by boat, accompanied by his assistants, who are known as “Zwarte Piet” (Black Pete).  That seems like a rather un-PC thing to do these days, but upon reading the Wikipedia article further, Zwarte Piet is zwart because he goes down everyone’s chimneys to leave candy and gifts.

Upon the arrival of Sinterklaas to a given location, Zwarte Piet (there would be several accompanying Sinterklaas) will throw mandarine oranges and pepernoten at the children (non-violently, in a manner akin to throwing candy during a parade).  Pepernoten are one of the best things about Sinterklaas.

Before going to bed on the evening of December 5, children across Holland will put out their shoes by the fireplace, along with a carrot for Sinterklaas’ horse and maybe a letter for Sinterklaas.  In the morning, their shoes will be filled with candy and maybe some small gifts (either thrown down the chimney by Zwarte Piet or personally delivered by him via the chimney).

Read the Wikipedia article.  It’s better than this post (but maybe lacks some of the humourous touches).

In conclusion, a couple of Sinterklaas songs, spelled in my best Dutch:

“Sinterklaas kapoentje, gooi wat in m’n schoentje, gooi wat in m’n laarsje.  Dank u, Sinterklaasje.”

I had this song and the next one as my Facebook status today and Toni noted that both of them confounded Google’s translator.  I just checked this first song.  Google Translate’s English version:

Sinterklaas kapoentje, discard what is in my shoe, discard what is in my bootie. Thank you, St. Nicholas.

Hilarious, but wrong.  My translation:

Saint Nick kapoentje, throw/put something in my shoe, put something in my boot.  Thank you, Saint Nick.

“Kapoentje” is, as far as I know, a word made up to rhyme with “schoentje” and therefore untranslatable.

Another song:

“Sinterklaasje, bonne bonne bonne, gooi wat in m’n lege lege tonne, gooi wat in m’n laarsje.  Dank u, Sinterklaasje.”

I won’t bother translating that one, but the message is the same: Hey, Saint Nick: gimme some stuff.  Put it in a container such as I will provide. There isn’t much sacred or religious in Sinterklaas, as I recall.

Anyway, happy Sinterklaas.

5 thoughts on “Sinterklaas

  1. Angie

    I had a vision of Saint Nick hucking oranges and cookies at the children and laughing an evil laugh. Mwahahaha!

    I love peppernuts 🙂

  2. Toni

    In Austria St. Nicholas has an assistant called ‘Krampusz’. St. Nic leaves sweets in the shoes of good children while Krampusz (the devil) leaves switches in the shoes of bad children for their parents to beat them with.

    Stories/versions may vary according to region.

  3. Don Hendricks

    The only dutch that survived my reformed theological seminary education was the phrase,
    “If you ain’t Dutch, you ain’t much”
    Hey Marc, check my last two blog posts to see what I just gave myself for Christmas.

    Don in AZ

  4. mam.v.

    Wie zoet is krijgt lekkers, wie stout is the roe (switch made of branches) I miss the fun of Sinterklaas Marc, making poems about people, making crazy surprise gifts and lots of laughter. You cann’t compare it too Christmas.

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