Ratianda travels the entertainment buzz!

05 December 2009

St. Nicholas & Black Peter






Check this out! Coming to you straight from Holland! Our sweet Columnist of Ratianda brings you St. Nicholas and his Black Peters.


St. Nicholas is initially from Spain and even now on the 3rd December he comes with his Black Peters "from Spain" (not anymore but the young kids still believe it that way).




Taken 5th December 2009

The Feast of Sinterklaas, or St. Nicholas, is an annual event which has been uniquely Dutch and Flemish for centuries. St. Nicholas' Feast Day, December 6th, is observed in most Roman Catholic countries primarily as a feast for small children. But it is only in the Low Countries - especially in the Netherlands - that the eve of his feast day (December 5th) is celebrated nationwide by young and old, christian and non-christian, and without any religious overtones.  It so happens that the legend of St. Nicholas is based on historical fact. He did actually exist. He lived from 271 A.D. to December 6th, 342 or 343. His 4th century tomb in the town of Myra, near the city of Anatolia in present-day Turkey, has even been dug up by archaeologists. Towards December 5th, St. Nicholas poems pop up everywhere in the Netherlands: in the press, in school, at work and in both Houses of Parliament.

On the day of the 5th, most places of business close a bit earlier than normal. The Dutch head home to a table laden with the same traditional sweets and baked goods eaten for St. Nicholas as shown in the 17th-century paintings of the Old Masters. Large chocolate letters - the first initial of each person present - serve as place settings. They share the table along with large gingerbread men and women known as "lovers". A basket filled with mysterious packages stands close by and scissors are at hand. Early in the evening sweets are eaten while those gathered take turns unwrapping their gifts and reading their poems out loud so that everyone can enjoy the impact of the surprise. The emphasis is on originality and personal effort rather than the commercial value of the gift, which is one reason why Sinterklaas is such a delightful event for young and old alike. 

It were the Dutch settlers who brought St. Nicholas over to
New Amsterdam - USA.

Before elves and eight tiny reindeer, St. Nicholas had a much more menacing assistant. Named Black Peter, this companion was the physical opposite of St. Nicholas. Tall and gaunt with a dark beard and hair, Black Peter was associated with the punitive side of Christmas. Traditionally St. Nicholas would hand out presents to good children, while it fell to Black Peter to dole out coal (and sometimes knocks on the head) to children who misbehaved. 

 Today the negative associations have left Black Peter and he has become more of an elf-like figure, an assistant to an overloaded St. Nicholas who helps to hand out gifts every December 5th, St. Nicholas Day in Holland. The Dutch continue to stage elaborate arrivals of Santa Claus and Black Peter. In the weeks before the feast, Santa and Black Peter arrive by boat, supposedly from Spain, and are greeted by ever increasing crowds of excited children and adults. 



Fact Trivia : Do you know the Dutch people celebrate with presents and families get together on this day. Its just like Christmas.
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