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?

3 comments:

TamuraJones said...

> This tradition [Sinterklaas] 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.

Christmas christian and Sinterklaas secular? Rather the other way round.

Christmas is actually what christians call a heathen feast.
Christmas is the feast of the winter solstice, the days getting longer again, the prospect of Spring. Surely one of the more rational reasons for festivities.
Briefly put, the Roman Catholic church decided to try and usurp this feast to make people forget its true meaning and origin.
In contrast, December the 6th is the death day (not birthday as children are typically told) of the Bishop of Myrna, so definitely a christian feast.

pastprologue said...

TamuraJones,

Not true - the Catholic church did no such thing. In fact, it was the pagans who chose the date for their feast because the Catholics were already using it. See this article, called Calculating Christmas for the whole story.

Donna

TamuraJones said...

DonnaPointkouski,

You claim that a well-known fact is not true.
As your evidence you cite an obscure article in a fairly unknown non-academic publication.
That article is neither scientifically sound nor supported by church dogma, and thus far from the "whole story".

- Tamura Jones