Holiday Season, Amsterdam
Sinterklaas is the Dutch equivalent of Santa Claus, and is celebrated in the Netherlands and Belgium on December 5th eve and the morning of December 6th. Sinterklaas traditionally arrives on a steamboat from Spain during November month and parades through the streets.
Zwarte Piet is known as Sinterklaas helper and climbs down the chimneys to deliver the presents thus being covered in black soot (hence the name Black Pete).
If your name is in Sinterklaas's big black book then you have been naughty and you will find a bundle of sticks or a lump of salt in your shoes instead of delicious candy. If you are a naughty child in Belgium you may be at risk of being put into the sack and taken back to Spain.
Presents are wrapped in interesting shapes and the children have to guess the present with the help of a funny poem written by Zwarte Piet. You will tell that Sinterklaas has visited your house as the table should be full of presents and there will be sweets and speculaas scattered all over the place.
Enjoy this holiday tradition and remember to be GOOD
Because Dutch people celebrate their main December event on 5 December (Sinterklaas), many people exchange presents that day and do not really celebrate Christmas the same way as many other countries do. It is still a festive time, as most shops will be closed, but the transport system will be running a Sunday service rather than shutting right down. The restaurants and bars are open, so people tend to go and eat out in restaurant, rather than make a traditional Christmas dinner at home.