Friday, December 5, 2008
Today is Sinterklaas!
The Feast of Saint Nicholas is the evening of 5 December. Here in the USA, we hear the term "Saint Nicholas" or "St. Nick" and we identify him with Santa Claus and Christmas.
In much of Europe, Saint Nicholas Day is celebrated on December 5 or 6. Saint Nicholas and the various observations are described in the Wikipedia article here.
Henk van Kampen has posted an excellent description of the celebration of Sinterklaas in The Netherlands on his excellent Trace Your Dutch Roots blog. He says it is the number one tradition in The Netherlands.
This tradition seems so much more rational than giving gifts on Christmas, which should be a religious holiday for Christians and not the secular holiday that it has become in the USA.
The drawback is, of course, that St. Nicholas Day comes too soon after Thanksgiving, and would shorten the shopping season tremendously. That may not be all bad, of course!
What's the genealogy connection here? If you had Dutch and German ancestors (and probably others), then they probably celebrated Sinterklaas after they emigrated to America with traditions similar to those described in the linked articles. Wouldn't it be interesting to be a time traveler back to the times of our immigrant ancestors and "visit" them to observe their traditions?