Marco Polo’s 24 Holiday traditions from around the world – Day 5: the Netherlands Sinterklaas

It’s Day 5 of our Advent Calendar and today we are headed to the Netherlands to meet with a certain Turkish bishop who is making the rounds around Central Europe today and tomorrow… Sinterklaas! Did you miss yesterday’s post? Check it out here.



Saint Nicholas, or Sinterklaas as he is known in the Netherlands, was a Greek bishop in Myra, modern day Turkey, though the Dutch believe that the good old saint now lives in Spain with his loyal servants, the Zwarte Pieten (the Black Petes). Mid-November, Sinterklaas boards a steamboat in Spain and sails to the Netherlands with the Zwarte Pieten. The arrival of Sinterklaas is a cause for big celebration in the Netherlands; crowds will gather and the Zwarte Pieten will hand out candy and traditional Dutch cookies called kruidnoten. While Sinterklaas is in the country, children can set their shoe in front of the fireplace and leave a small treat for the Sinterklaas’ white horse Amerigo and the following morning there may be chocolates and presents left for them.  However, the biggest celebration happens on the night of the 5th of December, right before Sinterklaas leaves the country again. Families and friends will get together, everyone will get presents, usually with an accompanying poem from Sinterklaas that details how the receiver has behaved during the past year.

If you happen to be in the Netherlands during the Sinterklaas period, make sure to try out the kruidnoten and chocolate letter that can be found in abundance in every store!

Buy the Amsterdam Marco Polo Spiral Guide.

Amsterdam Marco Polo Guide

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