Author Topic: Our Collected Spiritual Traditions  (Read 1841 times)

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December 19, 2003, 12:12:25 PM
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Here a little text on a dutch tradition  :)
The Dutch tradition of Sinterklaas(St. Nicholas in english)

In the fourth century a.d. St. Nicholas (in dutch called "Sinterklaas" or "Sint Nicolaas"; in german called "Sankt Nikolaus") was the bishop of Myra, which is now situated in Turkey. According to the legend, he saved his town from starvation. He is also said to have revived three dead children, and to have offered gifts of dowries to poor girls. Some sources say that he died on the sixth of December in 343. In 1087 his relics were taken to Bari in Italy. It is unclear why, according to the Dutch tradition, he comes from Spain. Possibly it has something to do with the fact that St. Nicholas was the patron of sailors. In the 17th century Holland was famous for its navigation. Maybe by contact with Spanish sailors this myth began. It could also explain why St. Nicholas has "zwarte (black) pieten" to help him because the Moors dominated Spain for several hundreds of years. (Another [more popular] explanation for "zwarte piet" being black is that he has come down the chimneys so often [see below] that he can't wash the dirt off.)

His legendary gifts of dowries to poor girls led to the custom of giving gifts to children on the eve of his feast day, 6 December. The companions of St. Nicholas (in Germany and Austria they are called "Knecht Ruprecht" or "Krampus") show the victory over evil. Together with his "pieten" he visits children to punish the evil ones and to reward the good ones. The worst punishment is to be taken to Spain in "zwarte piet's" bag out of which the good children get the sweets (called "pepernoten", "taai-taai", or "schuimpjes") and presents. A less radical punishment is to get the "roede" (rod)* instead of presents.** Nowadays there are not much evil children any more...

*Made out of little branches
**Or the kids get a little plastic bag full of salt

A few weeks before his feastday St. Nicholas comes to Holland (and Belgium) on his steamer with all his "pieten" and the presents which they prepared in Spain during the year. This event can be seen on Dutch television. From his arrival in Holland till his feastday the children can put their shoes in front of the fireplace. During the night St. Nicholas visits all the houses by travelling over the roofs on his horse, traditionally a white/grey (called "Schimmel" in dutch), and "zwarte piet" enters the houses through the chimney to put little presents in the children's shoes.***  Sometimes the children put straw, carrots and water near the shoe for the horse.

***The parents of the children put the gifts in the childrenís shoes

On the eve of his feast day St. Nicholas visits all children. After knocking on the door he gives them a bag full of presents (if they were good children). Early in the morning of 6 December, when he has visited everyone, he leaves and goes back silently to Spain, to come back next year

Personal view and experience with the Sinterklaas tradition

When i was a kid sinterklaas was always fun too look out for at the end of the year, getting presents and having a great time. And every year Sinterklaas and the Pieten come to the city to give kids a great time, the kids always watch on television how Sinterklaas and his Pieten come to the netherlands with their boat, it is said he comes from Spain and brings presents and candy for the children. When i was around 8 years old i found out Sinterklaas didnít exist, i didnít like it at that time, but after a while i was ok with it. But when i was still a young little boy i always checked out my shoes in the morning to see if something was in it (my parents put candy/nice things in it). And when it was the evening of the 5th december there were present all over the place (like christmas) and i always thought it was Sinterklaas and the Pieten who put all the presents there.
Sinterklaas also came/comes to nursery school and the Pieten throw pepernoten in the classes for the kids. The kids all still believe in Sinterklaas and the Pieten and really like that day of the year.
The Sinterklaas tradition is a real big thing here in the netherlands, a month before Sinterklaas celebration starts the stores are already filled with presents and toys for kids and on kidstelevision they send out things on Sinterklaas.
It also costs the people alot of money, the yneed to by all those presents for their kids.
At my place(family) we celebrate it with making presents for eachother, and poems. I made a real sarcastic/parodie like poems for my brother, he couldenít stop laughing, it was real fun.
And Sinterklaas also comes to our school(high school), but Sinterklaas and the Pieten are just teachers and students dressed like them, and they make fun of teachers on the school podium.
This is what the Dutch Sinterklaas tradition is like, and will be for kids for a long time.

hope you liked it:rolleyes:

post your traditions here  :)  

greets Spartan

December 29, 2003, 10:57:59 PM
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Cool. I saw something like that on the History channel. No tradition of my own here, but i celebrate Yule as well as X Mas and the former, IMO, is very close to Christmas.