Today was special. The kids were up early. We didn’t even have to help Julia to get ready and get dressed. She already had her socks, shoes and even jacket on and was pacing back and forth checking if we were ready yet. I had to tell her to take her jacket off as it was still too early to be at the docks. But she didn’t. Better ready than miss the bus. This was after all, the big event of the year. Sinterklaas is coming to town.
Sinterklaas is not Santa Claus mind you. My son said Sinterklaas is from Spain while Santa Claus is from the North Pole. Sinterklaas had the Piets while Santa Claus had the elves. Sinterklaas is riding a horse while Santa Claus has his reindeers. And isn’t it obvious the spelling is different Sinterklaas, Santa Claus. Duh!
So we waited at the canal. The anticipation was palpable. The kids couldn’t contain themselves. After 20 minutes in the cold, the Piets arrived. And they arrived in style!
At this point Julia was shouting with the crowd ‘Sinterklaas! Sinterklaas!’ We were at the edge of the canals with no barriers so I had to hold her back. And finally Sinterklaas’ steamboat came!
After Sinterklaas’ steamboat passed, we had a bit of a warm chocolate break before heading back to Grote Markt to see Sinterklaas’ parade. Kuya (my son) told us that last year was almost a disaster when Sinterklaas came to visit their school. Sinterklaas was late, caught up in the traffic and Mr. Short, their computer teacher had to pretend to be Sinterklaas for the younger kids. But finally, Sinterklaas arrived. What a relief!
I once remarked to a Dutch colleague that it’s amazing how they go to such lengths to make it so believable for the kids – the steamboat, the Piets, the horse, the works. And he simply replied, of course, he came from Spain didn’t he so how else should he arrive? Of course!
So after the warm chocolate, we went to the Grote Markt and waited for Sinterklaas’ parade. The Piets came first giving pepperknotten and nougats and high fives to the kids. Then after the long wait, Sinterklaas finally arrived riding a horse. Julia was in the front row in the barriers. She had waited patiently and finally managed to shake hands with Sinterklaas. She told me it was her lucky day today:)
By the end of the parade, it was soo cold. But the kids were happy. And Kuya noticed Joel had the same hair as the Piets. So I suggested Joel should join the Piet squad. And there’s a lot of discussion about that while we were on our way home. There’s a lot of things to consider of course, for one, the Piets and Sinterklaas came from Spain…etc. etc.