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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Who is Sinterklaas?

Do you know who Sinterklaas is?

If you're getting ready to fill your shoes with carrots or straw and set them outside, then you probably know who Sinterklaas is.

This is Sinterklaas. Does he look familiar to you?

In the 4th century there was a Bishop in Turkey named St. Nicholas who was widely known for his good deeds involving poor children all over Europe.

His companion, Zwarte Piet (Black Pete) was thought to be a Turkish or Spanish Moor orphan that traveled with St. Nicholas' as his helper.

The tradition of celebrating St. Nicholas came to America by way of the Dutch immigrants. The gift giving associated with the feast day festivities were (and still are in many countries) celebrated on December 6th. It was not until Clement C. Moore published "Twas the Night Before Christmas" that the idea of Santa Claus and his helper elves firmly took hold in the United States.

Today, European children set out their shoes on the eve of December 6th. The shoes are filled with straw or carrots for St. Nicholas' fine white horse, Schimmel. If the child has been good, the straw will then be replaced with small gifts, marzipan, chocolate initials and pepernoten, a delicious cookie. If they are bad....yes, a lump of coal is placed in the shoes.

For those of you who home school, there are several sites on Sinterklaas that feature games and coloring pages available on the web. You only have to google "Sinterklaas". I encourage you to learn more about this Saint and perhaps set out your own shoes this Friday.


Mildred said...

Very interesting - thank you for sharing. The photos are adorable.

Jess said...

Thank you for sharing! I did not know a thing about Sinterklaas.

Liz said...

Morning! Hi Laura! My daughters step mother is from Germany. When they celebrate Christmas they do the shoe thing too. I have a German heritage, but my grandmother nixed the nuts and candy in the shoes when they came over. She wanted her children to celebrate the American customs.
Any who! Love all your little vintage images. Have a great day!

FrenchGardenHouse said...

Hi Laura,

I know Sinterklaas personally, since I met him and got to sit on his horse every year in December as a little girl. Great post! (the setting of the shoe is on Dec. 5th, so you wake up and open the gifts on Dec. 6!

Mary Smilove said...

Hi Miss Laura,
It was so wonderful to meet you in LA, when you visit again I would love to take you out to lunch...I have the perfect spot in mind! I just adore your blog...Thanks for the informative post on Christmas tradition. Keep up all your creative is so inspiring!
XOXO Mary Smilove

heather said...

I'm glad I get a whole stocking, and not just a shoe. :)

Jorgelina said...

I like history. Very interesting. In my country we were used to putting the shoes all the famila. A greeting

Shimmy Mom said...

Thanks for the post Laura, and for thinking of us home schoolers. I knew that Santa had been based on St. Nicholas, but I hadn't heard the shoes part. We will set ours out on Friday.
Hope you find yours full of gifts.

Cheryl said...

Thank you for reminding me! I didn't know about his helper though.
It will be fun to teach this to my kids! thanks again

scargosun said...

We used to celebrate St. Nicholas feast day in grade school. We all had to take dance so we put out either our tap shoes or ballet shoes for St. Nicholas in the hallway outside our class room.

Lorrie said...

Hi Laura,

Your cute parcel arrived yesterday - thank you so much. I'll be using some of the buttons and lace for some Christmas projects that I'll post on my blog.
Thanks again,

Elizabeth said...

I know about Sinterklaas because I am Dutch and a history buff!

Miss Sandy said...

My grandmother had a neighbor who was German and she taught me about Sinterklaas when I was little. Fun post, love the graphics you chose.

The Berry's Patch said...

I needed this for cub scouts tonight. Thanks!

Blondie's Journal said...

Your post brought back memories of when my kids were little and I woulf find the shoes outside their bedroom doors and say "Oh no! Forgot again!!" Then I would fly to the dtore for candy. The creative story you wrote would have definately helped me remember. Have a good one.

Susan S. said...

Thanks for sharing the interesting information!

Suburban Cowgirl said...

How did your Sinterklaas go? Did he leave anything in YOUR shoe? Thanks for coming to my blog.

I'm going to have my first give-away starting tomorrow.