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The arrival of Sinterklaas

Updated: Mar 21, 2023

The arrival of Sinterklaar per boat in the Netherlands

Sinterklaas is a big holiday in The Netherlands, especially for children! Sinterklaas is based on the historical figure of Saint Nicholas the patron saint of children and he is a folklore legend. Other names the Dutch also call Sinterklaas are De Goede Sint and De Goedheiligman.

The arrival of Sinterklaas is a big deal in the Netherlands and it takes place at a different port each year. Sinterklaas always arrives on a Saturday at least three weeks before December 5 so the parents still have lots of time to spend money on presents. This year he landed on the 13th Of November (yesterday) in Amsterdam.

Sinterklaas arrives in November by boat from Spain (originally Turkey) with his helpers, known as roetveegpieten ("soot-smudge Petes") or schoorsteenpieten ("chimney Petes"). The Pietens wear colourful clothes that are based on 16th-century noble attire, with a ruff (lace collar) and a feathered cap. They are typically depicted carrying a bag that contains candy for the children, which they toss around.