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Photo © Karin Engelbrecht
Definition: Sinterklaas is the name of a character and a holiday named for Saint Nicholas, a real-life Catholic bishop who was known for his kindness to children. Like Santa Claus, the modern-day Sinterklaas has become a non-sectarian figure who is beloved by all children. Both characters wear red and reward children with presents for being 'nice'.

Every year, about three weeks before his name day on December 6, 'Sinterklaas' arrives by steamboat from Spain, along with his white steed and trusted helpers, the Zwarte Pieten ('Black Peters'). In the weeks following his arrival, children put out their shoes by the fireplace (or nowadays, next to the radiator or front door), with a carrot for Sinterklaas' horse. If they've been good, 'Zwarte Piet', who supposedly comes down the chimney, leaves behind a gift or typical seasonal treat, such as kruidnoten, chocolate letters, pepernoten, borstplaat, marzipan, taai-taai and speculaas. Learn more about the origins and customs of Sinterklaas.

Also Known As: Goedheiligman, Sint
Alternate Spellings: Sint Nikolaas, Sint-Nicolaas, Sunterklaos, Sunderklaos, Sunneklaos
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