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Saint Nicholas returned to a hero's welcome at Harderwijk's port
Rushed Dutch life grinds to a halt on December 5
Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill
HARDERWIJK - Saint Nicholas – Sint Nicolaas or just Sinterklaas to Dutch children – has returned to the Netherlands. He arrived by steam boat in the harbour of the former Zuiderzee city of Harderwijk, located east of Amsterdam. According to tradition, the centuries-old bishop spends the summer months in Spain and travels with a team of Black Peters (Zwarte Pieten to the children) to the Netherlands where they assist him with the distribution of presents on the eve of December the 6th.
He was welcomed by Harderwijk's mayor who was taken along on a parade through the streets on the back of a grey mare called Amerigo. The event received wide coverage and was shown on television. Several towns further down the road, at Nieuwegein, a new district of Utrecht, Sint Nicolaas arrived on a canal barge somehow mirrored the steamboat arrival.
Every town will host its own arrival of this children's friend whose kind deeds and low profile are legendary, going back to his early days in Turkey. This explains too why it is so confusing to children to see the man with the flowing robes, with staff and impressive hat parading in antique cars (how about an open-top Chevrolet?) while in other places in the Netherlands he rides a gray horse.
That Sinterklaas appeals to every strata in Dutch society is so obvious that it should not require any proof. However, it was widely given anyway, when Prince Willem- Alexander was recently spotted with his three daughters by a press photographer who saw Sinterklaas stop for a 'private' encounter with him and his children during a parade in the North Sea coastal town of Scheveningen.
The Zwarte Pieten abandoned their customary pranksterism at the Van Delft cookie factory when they assumed control of the production line, which each year turns out billions of pepernoten on its moving oven belt. Sinterklaas' helpers personally saw to it that the 2.5 billionth pepernoot made it to the end of the line where it was received with flashing cameras and a happy crowd of onlookers. The factory is targeting a production volume of 3.5 billion this year.
This above is part of a much larger article on Sinterklaas which can be read in this issue of the Windmill Herald. You may request a back copy of issue number #1154 when starting a new subscription online.