December 05, 2009

Sinterklaas in Beirut

The first loot is in.
Sinterklaas (the Dutch Santa Claus, which is celebrated December 5th, and on which the American Santa Claus is based) and his ‘zwarte pieten’ just passed by the little Dutch children in Beirut to drop off a load of gifts before he travels to Holland tonight where it is the traditional ‘Pakjesavond’ (gift-exchange evening). Sinterklaas with one of his helpers on the left (Do I detect Julia under the black paint?), and three little Dutchies on the right. The cross on the guy’s mitre seems to be a bit of an issue in the multi-cultural society of Holland. Some people feel that this might not appeal to Dutch children with an islamic background. I know; we Dutch can be immensely silly sometimes.

The annual visit of Sinterklaas to Beirut is a big event for the Dutch community. The children like it because they get to see Sinterklaas, a person of magical and mystical stature. The gift, of course, helps a lot as well. The Dutch ladies like it because this is the official start of the mulled wine season, and there’s some nostalgia in it as well.

Mind you, some of us are getting old enough to get even nostalgic over these Beirut visits of Sinterklaas. Kids that we remember as little toddlers crawling in between the wrapping paper are now taller than us, ask us whether we’ve seen their new car outside and drive us around instead of us them (are you following my grammatical incorrectness?). And little girls that used to cry before Sinterklaas have now become the Sint's politically incorrect black helpers. Time sure flies.

And now it is time to get ready for the next guy; Santa Claus.
She still believes in Sinterklaas. He doesn't; the boy is taller than Sinterklaas, but he knows that if he shows up, he's got to get a present.


Miss Footloose said...

Great fun! I'm not anywhere near a Sinterklaasavond party and wish I were. It was a high light in my own life as a Dutchie kid!

angie nader said...

ive never head of the sinterklaas story before...thanks for sharing