Friday, December 15, 2006

Bye Sinterklaas, Hello Santa Claus

"Thank you Sinterklaas for all these presents."- We got all these things under our X'mas tree and including the vest I'm wearing from the sack of Sinterklaas. :-)

Sinterklaas or Sint Nikolaas in Dutch or Saint Nicolas in French, is a holiday tradition in the Netherlands and Belgium
(both Dutch and French speaking parts), celebrated every year on Saint Nicholas' eve December 5 or, in Belgium, the morning of December 6. The feast celebrates the name day of Saint Nicholas, patron saint of children.

Saint Nicholas who had a reputation for secret gift-giving, who is now commonly identified with Santa Claus or in the Netherlands and northern Belgium as Sint-Nicolaas or Sinterklaas who came from Spain (according to the Dutch story/belief). Naturally, it is fictitious but with its joy brought to children, remains an undefeated profit-gainer for traders.

In the Netherlands, Saint Nicholas' eve, is the occasion for gift-giving without any relation from Christmas. Traditionally, he brings his gifts during the evening of December 5 is called pakjesavond ("evening of packages"). Presents are ingeniously wrapped, and are therefore called surprises. He has an helper name Piet or Zwarte Piet (Black Peter). There will be a loud knock on the door, and a sack full of presents is found on the doorstep. Alternatively - some improvisation is often called for - the parents 'hear a sound coming from the attic' and then the bag with presents is "found" there. Presents are often accompanied by a simple poem, saying something about the child or with a hint to the nature of the present. This night is considered to be extra-long awaited time for the children.

I was not even exempted from the list of Sinterklaas :-) We received gifts from "him" with accompanying poems :-) The way of giving is quite new for me. Different from how it is done in the Philippines during parties. The whole month of December in the Philippines is all about exchange gift, drinks and food feasts. The thing that most likely similar in any ways of celebration is that, the heavy traffic and panic-buying syndrome during rush hours. Some shops are even open and with extended time opening to serve last-minute gift givers :-)

After the night of Sinterklaas, The Netherlands shifts to Christmas spirit atmosphere.

This historical character was the inspiration for a mythical figure known as Sankt Nikolaus in Germany and Sinterklaas in the Netherlands and Flanders of Belgium, which in turn was the inspiration for Santa Claus. This occassion is also celebrated in some other countries in Europe: France, Germany, Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Luxembourg, Lichtenstein Slovakia, Slovenia, and Switzerland. Italy has their own style too, Palestine, Portugal and in the United States which in turn resulted influence to the Philippines. Sinterklaas is the basis for the North American legend of Santa Claus. The American version of the Santa Claus figure received its inspiration and its name from the Dutch legend of Sinter Klaas, brought by settlers to New York in the 17th century.

Whatever his name be: Santa Claus, Saint Nicholas, Saint Nick, Father Christmas, Kris Kringle, Santy, Jolly Old Elf, Santa Klaus or simply Santa, is a Mythical gift-bringer icon who distributes presents to sleeping children and adults who have been "good" all year; traditionally during the night of December 24, Christmas Eve. The celebration may vary in any areas according to beliefs and traditions.

Since I have Americanized cultural influence, then we will be welcoming Santa Claus on the 24th of December prior to Christmas day, that marks the traditional birthdate of Jesus of Nazareth. Christmas combines the celebration of Jesus' birth with various other traditions and customs of Christianity. Christmas traditions include the display of nativity scenes and Christmas trees (which we have), the exchange of gifts and cards, and the arrival of Santa Claus on Christmas Eve.

We will have our so called "noche buena" (midnight dinner) on the Christmas Eve. It will be a nice evening celebrating the night we used to and we missed since when we're young. It is not Sinterklaas who will knock at our door but couple of friends will join and each of us in any way be a Santa Claus for the night :-) ....

Tip: ( Send your wishlist earlier to your gift-giver for good preference, to avoid confusion, panic-buying, duplication, and give enough time-frame for fund-raising if in any case, gifts-worth of million euro cents :-), in which I already did).

Merry Christmas to everyone!

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