The Dutch festive season officially kicked off on November 17 with the arrival by steamboat of the Netherland's favorite patron saint, St. Nicholas (Sinterklaas in Dutch) and his Zwarte Piet helpers in Roermond. The Sint, as he's affectionately known, was greeted by excited children, who sang traditional songs in exchange for the traditional strooigoed handed out by the Sint's colorful helpers. These treats include cookies and candies such as kruidnoten, pepernoten, speculaas, taai-taai and borstplaat . The upcoming Sinterklaas holiday on December 5 is the most beloved of all Dutch holidays. In fact, the 'intocht' (arrival) is so popular that it is televised live on Dutch television.
Photo © Gaby Kooiman