Cultures around the world have special ways of celebrating the holiday season. In the “12 Days of Christmas” series, sophomores Jack Christian and Allison Zhang will interview students and teachers on their international Christmas experiences. Check back tomorrow to hear about Christmas in Japan from sophomore Atsuo Chiu.
Christmas in the Netherlands is called Sinterklaas, and Santa doesn’t come to your house. Sinterklaas does.
Sinterklaas comes to houses on Dec. 5, not Dec. 25.
“We open our presents on Dec. 5, but Sinterklaas actually comes a whole month before,” freshman Héloïse Schep, who lived in the Netherlands until fifth grade, said.
That’s because Sinterklaas arrives on a boat from Spain around the beginning of November.
“It is a big deal,” Schep said.
“His arrival is broadcasted all over TV, and it’s apparently a really expensive ordeal too.”
Once Sinterklaas arrives in the Netherlands, he travels throughout the country and visits elementary schools, including Schep’s.
“Sinterklaas would always come to our school and cause a ton of mischief,” Schep said.
“He would turn over desks, crumple papers and even leave a trail of candy throughout our school.”
In addition to causing mischief, Sinterklaas rides into schools on a horse and hands out candy and presents.
But on Sinterklaas (the holiday has the same name), stockings are not left out to be filled by Sinterklaas.
Children instead leave their shoes out to receive small gifts!
“We also leave out carrots and a glass of water for Sinterklaas’s horse,” Schep said.
Even though Sinterklaas is a major character in the Netherlands, Schep was never too fond of him.
“I remember hating Sinterklaas because he messed up everything at school,” she said.
“And I actually didn’t believe in Sinterklaas after I turned 3, so I would always go around and spoil it for other children.”
But because Schep’s family is from England, she celebrated a traditional Christmas too.
“During winter break, which is around the same time as Christmas, we would head down to our house in France and celebrate a normal Christmas,” she said.
—By Jack Christian