• Canby Christian Church

Sinterklaas ~ A Family Tradition

Updated: Dec 21, 2019

by Tish Wallbaum:

My family immigrated to the United States from Holland (The Netherlands).  I was raised in Holland and went to elementary grade school there.  Prayer was always in our public schools, and we also studied the Bible.

One of our Dutch traditions is our Sinterklaas Dag (Saint. Nicholas Day). It is a “children’s” holiday to celebrate Sinterklaas’s birthday on December 6. Saint Nicholas is a legendary figure based on Saint Nicholas patron saint of children. The celebration would begin on the eve before Saint Nick’s birthday December 5.  We, as children, would put out our Wooden Shoes and fill them with carrots and celery for Saint Nick’s horse (a white stallion).  Sinterklaas, as he is known in Holland, would come by the homes of children on the eve before his birthday and bring gifts for the children in our homes. He was also accompanied by his Swarte Pieten (black piet) his helper. They would ask the children if they were naughty or nice.  

We would celebrate Sinterklaas Dag and receive and exchange our Christmas gifts at that time. Later on December 25, Christmas Day, we would not receive Christmas gifts—we would only celebrate the birth of Jesus and put the emphasis on celebrating HIM.  My family has continued to celebrate our Dutch tradition by getting together as a family with my three sisters and my one brother and our spouses and our children and our grandchildren. We set aside the first Saturday of December each year to celebrate Sinterklaas Dag.  

It has been a highlight for all of us and an important children’s holiday to continue and pass on to our next generation.  Christmas these days has gotten too commercialized. So we do our gift giving and exchanges on a separate holiday, and this allows us to remember Christmas Day as our Savior’s birthday.  

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