The Day I Couldn’t Photograph Sinterklaas

It’s that time of year, if all the little boys and girls were good, the man in red shows up in his boat to give candy!

“Wait, boat?  What about his sleigh?  And it’s not December…”

Those were my thoughts exactly.  But, the Dutch are so attached to their boats that of course Sinterklaas, or Saint Nicholas, floats up in one.  Or, at least he does to hang out in Amsterdam for a while.  He floats in with a giant entourage of Zwarte Pieten, and then he hops off for a walk through the city to meet the mayor.

Obviously, his traditional means of transportation is a white horse, and that’s what he rides around on when he sneaks into houses all over Europe on the night of December 5th.  I guess he just thinks that water is the only way to get into this crowded city, and he feels like hanging out here for a bit before making the rounds.

As is typical, it’s a gray, rainy morning in Amsterdam.  But, I left my warm apartment and shuffled over to a draw bridge where I stood with tired parents and overexcited children waiting to see the big guy.

To start the Christmas season off right, I pulled out my camera and focused on a waving man with a white beard.  That’s when a little light popped up to let me know that my memory card was nice and dry at home, so I had to resort to taking pictures with my phone.

If you look closely, you can see Sinterklaas on the bow of that boat between some yellow balloons.

Oh well, I guess I’ll just have to stand out on a bridge again next year when Sinterklaas makes his annual trip from Spain.

All isn’t wasted, I’m pretty sure that old St. Nick gave me a wink as he floated by, and he held up his book containing the list of good and bad.  It looks like I won’t be getting coal this year!  Or, maybe in Holland he gives moldy cheese or rusty bikes to the bad kids?  That’s something I have to find out…

Dutch Word of the Day:

Zwarte Piet

This isn’t so much a word as it is a name, but it’s pronounced “J-wort-uh Pete”.  It means “Black Pete”, and it’s the title of the sidekick of Sinterklaas.  That’s another story in itself, so I’ll have to get to it another day.