Christmastime in Netherlands
The St. Nicholas season in the Netherlands (Holland) as dictated by S. Nooijen.
Each year in Mid-November, the arrival of St. Nicholas is broadcast on live television. He arrives to the Netherlands on a steamboat coming from Spain. St. Nicholas brings his white horse and is surrounded by people dressed as Black Pete, St. Nicholas’ assistant. As the boat docks, Black Pete tosses candy to the children who have come to greet them at the docks.
From the Middle of November to December 5th, children leave a shoe by their fireplace each night. They put a carrot or hay into the shoe and leave a dish of water for St. Nicholas’ horse. The children may even leave a note for St. Nicholas telling how good they’ve been throughout the year. During the night, the carrot is replaced with candy.
Although it is not a holiday celebrated with business or school closings, December 5 is the most important night for the children of the Netherlands. On this night, a loud knock comes to the door and a bag of presents is left outside. Each gift has a poem attached. The poem is about the gift and the recipient. December 6 is usually set aside as a day to be with family and a day for the children to play with their new toys.
Celebrating Christmas on December 25 is a relatively new, growing practice in the Netherlands. Santa Claus is not part of their festivities, however. Gifts are usually placed around a manger scene.