Wednesday, December 05, 2007

SinterKlaas and a story of evolving

It is December 5th and here in Holland that means it is 'pakjesavond' or the evening that The Sint brings all the boys and girls presents. Tomorrow is his birthday (Saint Nicolaas Day) and he celebrates it by giving gifts to others. This day is rooted back to the very early church. Many people in my adopted country of Holland are sensitive about the idea of Christmas and Santa Claus but they actually are in many ways responsible for the celebration of Christmas as we know it today.

The very early Dutch immigrants brought the tradition of SinterKlaas with them to the New World. Over time, the name SinterKlaas became Santa Claus in America. The early Santa looked more like his counterpart The Sint in those days.

In the children's poem by Clement Clarke Moore called "A Visit from St. Nicholas" or commonly now known as "Twas the Night Before Christmas", there is one of the first references of Santa as the jolly fat St. Nick we know and love today:

"He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;"

This was further helped along to change the physical image of Santa when Thomas Nash did a series of caricatures for 'Harper's Weekly' and then later in the late 1920s when Coca Cola created the popular image for an advertising campaign.

There are some wonderful similarities between these two figures which show how fun an evolution it has been. SinterKlaas rides on a white horse which lands on the rooftops to deliver the gifts.

Santa Claus rides in a sleigh filled to the brim with gifts pulled by his team of flying reindeer.

Dutch children lay out a shoe each Saturday evening to be filled with little gifts and candy from the time that SinterKlaas arrives in Holland until 'pakjesavond'.

American children hang a stocking by the fire on Christmas eve to be filled by Santa with little gifts and candy.

Dutch children place items such as carrots, water and straw for The Sint's white horse with their shoes.

Perhaps this is the sweetest of the chain of evolution as now children place cookies and milk out for Santa Claus before going to bed on Christmas Eve.

Regardless of where you live or your beliefs, the reasons behind the story of SinterKlaas or Santa Claus are of love, sharing, belief and giving. That is the special thread that ties our countries together. So whether you celebrate one or the other or both.....have a wonderful December 5th wherever you are today!


Nunnie's Attic said...

Thanks for the lesson! I think that's my favorite part in Miracle on 34th Street. When he talks and sings with the little Dutch girl. Do you know the song they sung?


Nancy said...

Oh does this bring back memories.
First of your treat for Marlene, my penpal from England, my sister, now deceased and me. We were there for a visit and along came Sint and Piet to your door.
I remember your neighbor coming into your house while we were gone and putting candy and tiny cookies everywhere on the table and gifts in our shoes.
I remember the same neighbor getting on his roof to lower the gift bag for his children, who called me gramma.
There are many happy memories for me of Holland on Dec. 5th.

Dena said...

What a treat to read all of this interesting info on Santa, thank you for sharing it :)


Mary said...

Thank you for such a wonderful story Heidi - I've learned a lot from your delightful post.

I drove a 160 mile round trip today to meet a friend for a Christmas lunch and shopping - more on that later. Am off to get my jammies on and then watch the movie "Miss Potter" which just arrived today (Netflix). While Bob is in Fla. I thought I'd order a 'chick flick' that I can enjoy alone!! Problem is I'm so tired I may fall asleep.

Happy Christmas - know it must be an exciting evening in Holland.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a wonderful celebration, Heidi! Happy December 5th to you! ~ hugs, Lynda xo

Suzann said...

Heidi - I never knew all of this. Such a lovely lesson! Such interesting information about Santa Claus and traditions. Thank you so much for sharing.

Mandie said...

Wow Heidi! You just gave everyone a serious History lesson there! LOL How intersting this blog enrty was as i didn't know that Holland was where it all originated. Thank you for sharing that story with us, and for telling it so well! Happy December 5th! Love you!


regina barnett said...

Thanks for sharing the story.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for teaching us about these Dutch traditions.

I really like the layered look of your Christmas tree.


Anonymous said...

How lovely to read about the traditions Heidi. Thanks for sharing this with us.

Marie x

angelasweby said...

That was such a fascinating accountand so beautifully illustrated too. Can I ask where you find such wonderful illustrations?
Thanks so much for bringing it all together for us and making us feel the connection between these traditions :>)
Hugs, Angela

Anonymous said...

santa blows raindeer

Anonymous said...