Saint Nicholas and Santa Claus, Info- en Booking Center Westerkwartier
More as 80 of the Most asked questions about Sinterklaas         Dutch version

A couple of years ago the very old gentleman J.W. Koning was permitted to visit the Saint (Sinterklaas) in his residence in Spain. And there he did also meet the librarian Pete.
And he did see also the big Questions and Answers book. It contains all the questions the kids (and older ones) often aks about Saint Nicholas and Pete etc..
The librarian Pete has all those questions nicely written down in that book and did put the answers neatly next to them. Sometimes he has merged together 2 or 3 questions and the answers on them, because by doing that there was a clearer answer possible on all of them.
With special permission of Sinterklaas J.W. Koning was alowed to copy some of those questions and answers for his Archivewe and he also may place some of those questions and answers here on our site. To protect the privacy of the children we have their names not at the questions. And there are many children who had asked the same questions, so then there should be a whole bunch of names whit each question. Does a question looks very much or exactly on yours? Well, then it is very likely your question or your question is processed in this question. In November 2013 J.W. Koning did contact the librarianPete to get updated answers on some 'hot' questions, in december 2013, we have adjusted the answers here to those updated versions.
On this 'kids-page' we mostly use the name Sinterklaas Because the questions and answers are about that Sinterklaas as the Dutch and Flemish kids do know him. On the Historical-page and the Figures and Customs-page we mostly use the name Saint Nicholas.
Next to that on this kids-page, we did let the ComputerPete do a graphical joke with the mouse-cursor.
To us it seemed kind of fun for the children.

You'll find the questions below. To see the answer, you have to click on the question with the mouse-cursor. Click on the question again to let the answer disappear again.

01. Does Sinterklaas really exist?
Saint Nicholas - Sinterklaas

It does grief Sinterklaas always very much when there are children who doubt his existence.
of course does Sinterklaas really exist! Why else would there be every year all those thousands of children and their fathers and mothers on the wharf waiting for him?
And as long as there are people and children who continue to believe in Sinterklaas, then Sinterklaas will always continue to exist, this he did promise us.

02. How old is Sinterklaas now actually?

Often Sinterklaas does not know that by hand, and then he just have to look it up. But then it's a bit difficult to determine, for the following reasons.
- St Nicholas was born in the year 270 (3rd century). So for example, in 2020 he would then be 1750 years old.
- But Saint Nicholas (Nicholas of Myra) was only later (6th century) declared a Saint (Saint Nicholas), so as Saint Nicholas he would be just about 1450 years old.
- And it was much later (19th century) that that people started to give Saint Nicholas the name Sinterklaas and he therefore became Sinterklaas. He 'changed' his name not only because the people did it, but also to distinct more from his nephew (also an St. Nicholas) who was just started als Santa Claus. So as Sinterklaas, he is actually much younger than he is as St. Nicholas is, as Sinterklaas he is about 200 years old.
- Are you looking at the feast of Saint Nicholas, then there's also no definitive answer. It is already celebrated from the 6th century, but it was not until the thirteenth century, that the feast of Saint Nicholas was set on 6 December (before it ranged from the begin of december to the end december), and it was not until the 19th century that it moved to the evening of 5 december, and it was even later that it was named 'Sinterklaas' feast (Pakjesavonds), so also there is no conclusive answer about the age.
Therefore, this question can not be answered with a definitif answer and frankly it is not so important how old the Saint is, you're as old as you feel, right?
It is in any event clear that Sinterklaas is older than the grandfather of your Grandpa would be. And that is the answer the Petes do give most of the time.

03. Where is Sinterklaas born?

Saint Nicholas was born in the beautiful town of Partara, in the region of Lycia, which was (like the city of Myra) in what was then called small/litte Asia (Asia Minor). The region belonged then to Greece and was a part of the Byzantine Empire. So Sint Nicolaas is thus basically a Greek or even better, a born Byzantine.
Today that area does belong to Turkey. That is why some people make the mistake of saying that he came from Turkey.

04. Does Sinterklaas also has a first name? And what is his last name?

For ages long People used to have no last name, they were called by their fathers name, or by their job (or title) or by where they came from. Examples Claes Johnsson (Claesson of John), Claes (the) Baker, Earl James, Claes from Glasgow.
The Saint his own name is Nino Laos (Nicholas) and because he was Bishop in the town of Myra (in that time called small Asia, now it lies in Turkey and is now called Demre), he was thus called Bishop Nicholas of Myra. You could therefore say that his surname then was 'of Myra'. His first name was thus 'Nicholas' and his surname thus 'of Myra'.
But Sinterklaas has still more names.

Because people and the church declared him Holy he became Saint Nicholas. So now his name was also Saint Nicholas or Saint Nicholas of Myra.

Once upone in the Netherlands, it was in the Napoleon period, he was stopped and questioning by one of Napoleon's inspectors of the registry office.
These inspectors had to ensure that everybode was registrated with a first and last name. When the Inspector asked "Who are you?", the Saint replied "I am St. Nicholas". The next question was: "What is your first name?" and the answer was: "Nicholas". And so the Inspector did note that at the Persons registration, 'Nicholas St. Nicholas'.
Since then Sinterklaas is also called   Nicholas SaintNicholas   or   Nicholas StNicholas.
And then you may also say Saint 'Nicholas StNicolaas of Myra'. For example, this is how the Saint is announced as he would come on an officially audience with the Queen or the President.
When he is there just on 'normal' Sinterklaas visit, they call him simply St. Nicholas and/or Sinterklaas there.

But the children know him today, also under the name Sinterklaas. What about that then?
Maybe your are officially called Benjamin, but your pals call you Ben (your nick name), that sounds nicer and/or friendlier. All his friends call him thus Sinterklaas. The children do find that sounding friendlier as St. Nicholas. Saint Nicholas is so basically the posh name and Sinterklaas thus his nickname.

What do you say? Oh yes, so you can also say Sinterklaas StNicolaas of Myra or Sinterklaas of Myra. But Sinterklaas is the easiest.

05. Does Saint Nicholas had parents? And what are their names?

Yes sure, his parents were Euphenius and Anna. Those were wealthy people who lived in Partara.

06. Does Saint Nicholas has any other family? And what are their names?

Yes, He did have family, but none of them did become as old as he. There are still a couple of great-great-great(58xgreat)-cousins and nieces, who also have received the surname StNicolaas. And Sinterklaas considers all Petes also as his family.

07. Where does than the word 'kapoentje' in the song 'Sinterklaas kapoentje' come from?
Shoe with gifts

According to some people 'kapoentje' stands for fattened cock (Most of the time a Cock without chickens). And the expression 'a fattened cock'was also used to referred to a wealthy, say but rich, person (Most of the time a rich male bachelor).
Without any doubt is Sinterklaas not only a wealthy person and a bachelor also, yet it remains a not much respectful term for Sinterklaas. So why this using in that song.
But it is a fact that kapoentje nice rhymes with schoentje (little shoe), or actually the other way around in the song, schoentje rhymes nicely on kapoentje, and therefore it is clear why this historic term is used in that song.

08. What is the color of Sinterklaas his eyes?
the color of Sinterklaas his eyes

This is something we have asked a Pete to tell us, because we had difficulties to determine it yourself. According to the Tailor-Pete, Saint Nicholas eyes are usually grey-blue and sometimes they hold also a little brown in them.

09. Why does Sinterklaas look like a very old man?
(Most other Saints look younger)

Saint Nicholas was born in 270 and died in 340, so he has lived 70 years.
That was very very old for a time in which most people became not older as 45 years.
And that is why the people have remembered and commemorated him as an old man.

10. Why is Sinterklaas wearing long hair and a long beard?

Long (er) hair was normal in the time that Saint Nicholas lived and older men often wore a beard then. On old images (Icons) is to see that Saint Nicholas also wore a beard. In the imatination of the people this beard has become longer and longer (the older the man, the longer his beard, it was thought) until it reached the current length.

11. How long is Sinterklaas his beard?
the beard from Sinterklaas- Saint Nicholas

Sinterklaas his beard does reach to midway of his abdomen. He does not know exactly how long that is. Sometimes the beard gets too long and then the Saint does visit the Barber-Pete, who in turn cut of a small piece.

12. Does Sinterklaas let his hair be cut?

Of course let the Saint cut his hair regularly, then the dead points are cut off. Of course, there will not be very much cut off because Sinterklaas is very fond of his long white curls and beard.
After washing and trimming the BarberPete will put in those beautiful waves and curls. That is called 'Onduleren'. Only special hairdressers can still do that nowadays.

13. Why does St. Nicholas look like a Bishop?

Saint Nicholas was formerly also a bishop. He was Bishop of the Greek Catholic (Greek Orthodox) Church in the place Myra in Asia minor (Nowadays is that Turkey and the place is called Demre now). As a Bishop he wore a Bishop's costume of course, and nowadays he still wears a similar costume although he was no Bishop anymore when he became a Saint. The costume is thus become a tradition belonging to the Saint-Nicholas feast.
And admit it, Sinterklaas in Sinterklaasx costume is much more fun as a Saint Nicholas in t-shirt and jeans.

14. How are the clothes called that Sinterklaas wears? Or what are the parts of his costume?
Sinterklaas dress-up doll

Sinterklaas zijn kleding bestaat uit verschillende delen.
He wears a purple tabard (priest robe), above that a white Alb (type of dress) trimmed with lace around sleeves and bottom, there over a red Stole (kind of scarf with brisket). He sometimes wears a Bishop's cross on a chain above that Stole. Around his waist is a white cord (Clingel), this often has tassels on the ends. And then his red robe and Mitre.
Of course he wears also socks and shoes or boots and very occasionally slippers (indoors).
Sometimes he wears a Workmitre (low mitre), for example on a visit if the ceiling in the House is very low. He wears gloves (usually white, sometimes purple) and he wears a red Bishop's ring also.
And when it is very cold, then he puts a warm red-yellow wool scarf around his neck.

15. How much did your ring cost?
Sinterklaas his ring

Sinterklaas has this ring for a very long time. He has ever gotten him a befriended Bishop and thus not paid it himself. He therefore does not know what the ring has cost.

Sinterklaas his ring
16a. How do they make a staff?
16b. Did Sinterklaas ever loose his staff and what did he do then?
Sinterklaas his traditional Staff

In the earley cen turies the staff was usely made of solid copper, with a layer of gold around it. But that was very heavy. Later Sinterklaas had a 'Coppersmith' in Madrid create a new staff, now of a copper plate. This staff is hollow, so that Sinterklass can carry him easier.

Well, unfortunately, it happend about a hundred years ago that Sinterklaas did loose his staff when visiting the province of Groningen. Since then he used one from the shop of "cheap is expensive" from the city of Groningen. It does occasionally happen when Sinterklaas is very busy in the Netherlands, that they staff is forgotten or misplaced somewhere, therefore he takes each year a few extra staffs of the firm "cheap is expensive" along as reserve.
Luckily, Sinterklaas did recover his real 'Madrid' staff again in 2013. For securety reasons though, he still takes every year a couple of those spare staffs with him.

One of the spare Staffs

One of the spare Staffs
17. Why does Sinterklaas wear a mitre?

The Mitre of the Saint is an important garment. That's because the Saint has very long hair and this would all blow in his face if he wears nothing on his head. Specially if he goes over the rooftops, then it is very important that the Saint can see where he rides.
That is why the Saint does never go out the door without his mitre. When it storms, then the Sint has special storm ribbons over the Mire, so that he can hold it secure with one hand.
The Mitre of the Saint is red with gold and runs into a beautiful point. Many children wear a copy of the beautiful mitre of the Saint and have made it from paper and/or paperboard.

18. Does the Saint has but only 1 costume?
If he does have more as 1 costume, does he than have clothes also in other colors?

No, the Saint has multiple costumes. This is also necessary, because if the Saint during an arrival, parade or visit is getting soaking wet, then he can change into a dry costume for the next parade or visit. And of course would the Saint does also like the put on clean clothes every day.
The looks of the costumes is depending on which tailor did made it, the tailorPete does like the costume to be just normal red, the other likes a what darker red (Maroon populate), a third wants some more frills, and yet another wants embroidery etc. etc..
All costumes do have a lot of red and gold colors, because that are the favorite colors of the Saint.

19. What kind of shoes do you have? Do you also use sportshoes and slippers?
Sinterklaas his shoes

In Netherlands carries the Saint prefer his black, neat shoes. These do have a little profile, for when he is walking on the rooftops or has his feet in the Stirrups. In Spain the Saint use often hiking boots or leather sandals. That last kind he often wears during the summer because they fit so delicious. The Saint actually never use athletic shoes.

20. Does the Saint sometimes wears other clothes?

That happened only very rarely. Actually only if the Saint does sport a little.
For example, if is very hot in summer in Spain and the Saint goes swimming, then he wears a red swimsuit.
And sometimes does Sinterklaas wear regular clothes. He does this when he doesn't want to stand out ('Being in cognito /undercover' it's called).

21. Does the Saint then still do sports?

Certainly does the Saint also still do sports. You will not see him running, cycling or playing football or sporting in a gym or with a club, but horseback riding is also a sport and also quite heavy.
Beside that, the Saint likes to do long walks in the forest and graceful ice skating, also called 'Schoon rijden" or "Schoon Ryden' (which is a very old skating sport in the form of quite quiet skating with a whole wide stately legpushes, as you sometimes see in North Holland or at Fairs in Dickens style). But he can do this only if he is on winter holidays, For example, when he is visiting Santa Claus then the three of them Saint, Santa and mrs. Claus in the middle, are doing 'Schoon ryden' very often.
Zie ook : What is schoonrijden, Schoonrijden now en Wikipedia (Dutch) Schoonrijden .
And, as already stated, every now and then he takes a quiet reviving plunge and does swimm a few tracks. Exercise keeps him fit and makes him feels young.
Off course the Saint then usually wears sportier clothing. Sinterklaas did add: "Also I like to play chess, but I believe that falls more under the Brainsports."

22. With whom are you walking? Are you ever going cycling? And with whom?

When the Saint goes walking then he often takes a few Petes with him. Exercise is very good for everyone, including the Petes he says.
Cycling he does never actually. Most Petes do have a bicycle and do ask him sometimes to bike with them, but often the Saint would rather ride on his horse along with them, because Amerigo also needs his exercises.

23. Has Sinterklaas ever been married?

Saint Nicholas was never married. That's because he has promised as a Bishop to live celibate. Basically this means that he has promised never to marry.
He still has paternal cousins though, they now and then help him with his work.

24. Why does Sinterklaas not look the same everywhere?
Sinterklaas and Pete

Well, Sinterklaas has multiple costumes so that gives already a different look, then the Saint uses one time flat shoes and another times riding boots with chunky heels that will give difference in hight and if the Saint is a bit tired and does walk a little more bend forover, he will also seems smaller and thicker.
But above all the Saint will try to look like the image the children do believe that he looks like. That is something all the Saints do. They can adopt different 'forms'. Therefore, the Saint can be one times thicker and larger than the other times and he will wears glasses sometimes and other times not.

25. How come there are different Saints at the same time in different places and sometimes also on TV?

The Petes have ever to diligently and then it may well be that they have scheduled two visits at the same time. And that is the reason that the Saint has to be on multiple places at the same time. This is particularly tiring so try the Saint that always avoid.
Television shots does the Saint therefore often all that earlier in the day and they are then broadcast at a time that many kids can watch it. That way it looks as if the Saint is at the same time on the TV and in a real place.

26a. So there are no help-Sinterklazen?

Yes and no. Some people claim that the real Saint does not longer exist and that it are his "followers" who act as Sinterklaas. Thus that they all are help-Saint Nicholases. But that's talk of silly adults and infidel Thomasses.
Of course does Sinterklaas really exist. But he can unfortunately not always be everywhere at once. When it comes to small children or sick children, when it comes to larger children and adults who really do believe in him than Sinterklaas always does come himself. But if it's about a double scheduled visit for adult people or for children who no longer believe in him, then it can happen that the Saint does not come himself. At those very rare occasions (3-5 times per year) he does send one of his old cousins. They are always comming to the Netherlands when Sinterklaas does visit the Netherlands (sometimes disguises as Spanish nobleman), they have a lot of experience and they are his heirs and have therefore also StNicolaas as surname. So when it is one of his Nephews who does come as Sinterklaas, also then comes a 'real' StNicolaas.
So yes, sometimes Sinterklaas does get help, but that is very rare. He strongly prefers to come himself, and if he cannot then, actually,it is not a help-St Nicholas as doubting Thomases that mean. It's a real StNicolaas with real Petes and with one of Sinterklaas real Large Books

26b. So there are no help-Sinterklazen?

No, the one whose people think is surely a help-Sinterklaas, is usually a Fake-Klaas, a regular adult who thinks it's funny if he himself acts as Sinterklaas. The Petes that do someone with him are fake-Petes.
Often you can see by the clothing and the fake-beard that it is a fakeKlaas. But usually those fake-Klazen and fakePetes do visit only there, where it this is agreed that they come, so for example at a party for adults etc. Where everybody knows on forehand that it is a fake-Klaas who is coming.
Sinterklaas does not mind that. He can take a joke and even sometimes make a joke. But a fake-Klaas visiting believing children, that should not be done, says the Saint.

27. How and why did Sinterklaas get his Large Book?
The Large Book

When Sinterklaas was still Bishop Nicholas, he took, when he went on a trip, always his Episcopal Bible with him. That was a very large book. Formerly in these Bibles were always a few extra blanc pages. Because loose sheets of parchment were too expensive for the common man, they could note their important issues on those empty pages.
For example, a couple who got married, got at their wedding a wedding Bible. In it they did write when they were married, when children were born, when these children got married, when grandchildren were born and also when the people died.
Bishop Nicholas also jotted down important matters, which had to be long remembered, in his bishop's Bible.
And thus was born the story "Sinterklaas writes everything down in his Large Book" or  "It's all in the Large Book of Sinterklaas".
Many of the Large Books of Sinterklaas have therefore often a cross on the front as a reminder of that Bishop's Bible.

28. How old is the Large Book and is there just 1 Large Book?
Because sometimes it looks to be a different one.

When Saint Nicholas has started with writen things no longer in his Episcopal Bible to keep track, but to use a special book insted, is not known. That is, Sinterklaas does know it and otherwise he can find it in that first Large Book though. But he means that it not our bussiness and he is still right too. What he wanted to explain is: A few years earlier he could do with one Large Book. However, because the population grew, so there came more and more people and also more and more things changed (people moved, naughty children became nice or nice little children did naughty things etc., there had to be too often things in the book crossed out and changed. That began to appear as shoddy work and that is not what the Saint likes. Therefore later he took every year a new Large Book, or actually even 2 (1 for Belgium, 1 for the Netherlands).
Nowadays there is a Large Book every year which has several volumes. So there are, for example 1 volume for Amsterdam-city, 1 for Rotterdam-city, 1 for the province Groningen, 1 for Friesland (Frisia) etc. Each Volume is used for but 1 year, then comes a new one and the old one (1 year = old?) goes to the archive of Saint Nicholas, where the Saint they still can read them if he wants to.
Do all those great books look exactly the same?
No. Sometimes such a volume has a cross on the front and other times that can be a mitre. Or some other form of embellishment. That is done on purpose, so the Saint can easier know one from the other.

29. Does Sinterklaas really know everything? Is really everything noted in the Large Book?

No! Sinterklaas does know very much, but he does not know everything. Knowing everything is something only a God can do and Sinterklaas is no God and also he is never been one.
But the Saint sees and reads a lot and for his Listening-Petes goes the same. If that is on Televison, on Radio, or in the Newspaper or in a letter somebody did send to Sinterklaas. Everything is read, heard and examinated. And everything what they find to be important, the Saint does note in the Large Book. Thus, even that not everything is noted in the Large Book, there are very much things noted in the Large Book.

30. Why does Sinterklaas rides on a horse?
The White Horse on the roof

When Saint Nicholas was young, very long ago, there were still no cars. Anyone who needed transport, used a donkey, a horse or a horse and carriage. Because Sinterklaas does like horses very much, and because it is a very handy (and environment friendly) means of transport, he still has them. With a horse, you never run out of petrol and the battery is also never empty. If you are on a horseback, you can see everyone and vice versa can anyone see Sinterklaas. In short, benefits enough. Though he nowadays occasionally use a car or a bus for the longer distances. Sometimes Amerigo wil go along then, in a trailer behind the car.

31. Why does Saint Nicholas rides on a white horse?

On very old images you see that the Saint formerly used to ride on a brown horse or on a donkey.
But at some point the people thought that such an important man like Sint Nicolaas had to ride on a White Horse because people thought that a white horse was something special and a lot of very important people therefore did ride on a white horse. Since then the Saint is usually riding on a White Horse.

32. What is the name of the horse of St. Nicholas? And how old is it?

The horse that Sinterklaas does use in the Netherlands was always called Amerigo. But the last Amerigo has gone in retirement.
Amerigo was the working name (function-name) of the Whitey. New Whitheys did al get that same name Amerigo Just like a police officer, when in function he is called 'Officer (of police)', private he is, for example, caled mister Jackson. THe new Whithey That the Saint does use has however Got a new name also, He is Called 'O So Fast'. Note that the Saint does have some spare horses, so spare 'O So Fast' thus. Funny to know that the brother off O SO Fats is a very strong dark brown horse called 'Heavy Loaded' Which is used to go with the Petes on their Nightrips His color is a natural camouflage in the dark and he is strong enough to carry all the presents.
As a foal the horses have, of course, a own name (e.g. Monday or Tuesday or Izabel, Clara or Dandy) and that is used again as he/she retires. (In the Breed registration book such a horse is called than for example 'Monday's-Amerigo' or 'Amerigo's Monday' or 'Amerigo's Izabel'. In the stable or the whey it is referred to him/her than as Monday or Izabel. You also see that same use at riding schools, all horses have a registration book name and some also have a stable name.
But as the Saint is riding his horse in an Arrival/Parade (or on a visit) then that horse always is called O So Fast. That is easier for the children to remember, and also for Sinterklaas, then also he need to remember only one name. However, it may happen that the stable Pete forget this and that he appeals to the horse than by his stable name. Then the Saint just act as if he did not noticed it.
So sometimes the Whithey can be a gelding and sometimes a Mare. A horse must be at least 6 years before the Saint takes him to the Netherlands, and if the Horse is about 22 years he is going to retire, then it is the turn of another horse.
In Belgium has Sinterklaas his horse 2 different names: "Nice weather today" and "Bad weather today". The name depends on the region where Sinterklaas is celebrated. The story goes that the horse has received this name when Sinterklaas did ask Pete how he would call his horse. Pete understood the question wrong and replied: Nice/Bad weather today, Sinterklaas and that's how the horse became this funny name. Also in Belgium, the Saint has spare horses. There is the use of the name just the same as it was with Amerigo.

33. Does the Saint's horse sometimes get a foal?

There was a Mare Amerigo who has got a foal. That foal is called Pegasus.
But it's not common for a Mare that is the Saint's Horse, to get a foal. Because then when the Mare must be in the Netherlands, the foal has to stay in Spain without his/her mother, that's not a nice thing to do. Hence! Still it can happen now and then that a Mar get's a foal before she is the acting O So Fast. For example if she is 4 or 5 years old. That makes such a Mare what more nurturing and more cautious. And if the foal is about 2 years, it no longer finds it very worse that his mother is a few weeks away. Then it is already big enough to entertain themselves with the other foals and horses.

34. Is Sinterklaas alowed to go to a mosque?
Sinterklaas at the mosque

Of course is Sinterklaas alowed to visit a Mosque. He may also visit a Church or a Synagogue. Everyone is allowed to do that, isn't it?
Sinterklaas will do that not in the Sinterklaas costume, but in ordinary civilian clothes. Why? Sinterklaas does not go as Sinterklaas to the mosque, church or synagogue because that are places of worship and thus not meant for a Sinterklaas celebration. Hence, the Saint than go there as an ordinary citizen. Logical right?
However, doesthe Imam, the pastor or the rabby Invites Sinterklaas him to come as Sinterklaas and/or in Sinterklaas costume though, then he does that of course.

Sinterklaas in the mosque
35. How did the feast of Saint Nicholas actually occur?

That is not exactly known, it may be that the people wanted a party before it would be to dark and to cold to be partying outside because of the winter. Often such a party then became linked to a Church mass, and also often combined with weddings and engagements. They were always often been at the end of the year. And often Marriages etc (and even the St. Nicholas feast) were also linked to the midwinter feast (winter solstice).
The protective Patron Saint for loving people was Saint Nicholas and so can a party with lots of loving people and marriages thus easy become called the feast of Saint Nicholas.

36. Is the Sinterklaasfeast now on 5 december or on 6 december?
And on which day has the Saint his birthday?

The date of the Sinterklaasfeast is in the 13th century set on 6 december. That is the anniversary of the death of the Saint and with Saints the day of their death is their feast day (the day they changed from a mortal human into an immortal Holy Saint). In the old days the day finished at 6 p.m. and then followed the evening that belonged to the next day. Therefore, the evening from 5 to 6 december is Saint Nicholas Eve (just like Christmas Eve the night before Christmas day). So the feast of Saint Nicholas was formerly celebrated on 6 december, but 'pakjesavond'(Saint Nicholas Eve) therefore belongs to be celebrated on december 5, after 18: 00. The actual real birthday of the Saint is not on 6 december, but because even he himself does not remember exactly when he was born, he does celebrate his birthday party on 6 december himself also.

37a. Is the Saint Nicholasfeast only for people from a church or is it for everyone?

Saint Nicholas is the Patron Saint of (among others) sailors, children, lovers, travelers, retailers and more. Many of those people are not churchpeople or religious people, yet Saint Nicholas is their Patron Saint. And if he is their Patron Saint, then they may also celebrate his feast, seems logical isn't it?

37b. Is the Saint Nicholas feast only for people of Dutch origin or also for the immigrants?

As already said before, Saint Nicholas is also the protective Patron Saint for travellers, and it can not be argued that immigrated Dutch people once traveled to the Netherlands. So yes, as travelers, they may also celebrate the feast of their Patron Saint. Sinterklaas is the Patron Saint of actually allomost everyone and thus is the Saint-Nicholas feast also for everyone and can also ce celebrate by evreyone!

38. Why does Sinterklaas give presents to everyone?

Because he is very very much loves children and likes to spoil them once a year. And isn't still delicious anyway to be able to give things away?

39. Is Sinterklaas than very rich?

St. Nicholas used to be very rich, but he gave away the most of the money to poor people, so currently he is less rich. Fortunately, there are many people who like to help Sinterklaas, for example, he gets usually discounts on the presents that he buys. And sometimes people do send gifts to the Saint so that the Saint than can give them away again. Or people do send him money (nowadays that is called sponsorship).

40. Why does some children get big and expensive gifts and other smaller?

Sinterklaas prefers to give small fun gifts (e.g. toys) or things that the child really needs (e.g. a pullover). But sometimes there are rich parents who feel that their child has deserved a big present. They buy it themself and they are asking the Saint if he who would rap it in, and than put it in the shoe. Usually is the Saint willing to do so, but he finds that they than also have to buy some presents for poor children so that he can bring something more to those children also. So now you know, that those expensive gifts are bought by the parents or grandparents!

41. Why do children set their shoe in the Sinterklaas period?
Shoe setting

For centuries is a shoe used to receive special things in and because every child has his or her own shoe, Pete can never be mistaken with handing out the gifts.

42. When does one set his shoe? When does one get something in his/her shoe?

In Netherlands the feast of St. Nicholas was for centuries always celebrated on december 6. Long ago there was on the evening of december 5, always a Saint Nicholas market. Parents went there to buy delicious things and children who had to go to bed early, were allowed to set their shoe. On december 6, the children than found the goodies and the presents in their shoe. In that time all children did have a schoolholyday on the 6th December. The day before, on 5 december, was the most diligent child from the classroom chosen as children's Bishop. The children's bishops and his compagnie (the other children) were allowed to dress up as Saint Nicholas and to go along the houses to ask for candy.
Nowadays the children do go with St. Maarten (or with Haloween) along the houses in order to get candy and do you celebrate the Sinterklaas gifts-feast on pakjesavond (Nicholas Eve) and should you usually set your shoe a few times in the time between the National Arrival and pakjesavond. When exactly, that does the Saint arrange with your parents, or he leaves a note about that in your shoe or on a table.

43. If someone gave you a ('Speculasdoll (simmilair to a gingerbread man), did that mean she/he was in love with you?

Yes, that was the meaning. Such a type of custom also existed even before the Saint Nicholas celebration. But whit the Saint-Nicholas feast it did got another meaning added. Boys and girls used to be believed that Saint Nicholas could take care that someone would fall in love with them. And that he/she would remain so. If someone had already asked Sinterklaas on many occasions for someone to fall in love with him/her and still no lover had show, he or she did get on december 6, a doll of speculas from the Saint. Eighter to show that the Saint had not forgotten them or to show that there was somebody with some feelings for them already. Therefore those dolls also known as suitors. Other boys and girls could see that the receiver of that speculaaspop wanted a partner and if they themselves wanted that to, then they could contact the recipient. And then there were often couples formed who felt that Saint Nicholas had brought them together.
The same meaning and effect can be found in the throwing the bridal bouquet, the lady who does catch it shows that they like to have a partner (when they are single) or like to get married (when they already have a partner).

44. Does Sinterklaas likes sweets himself?

Well, what child does not like sweets, and actually is the Saint also a bit of a great little child, so he is also fond of sweets. Of course he cares that he is not eating too much, and of course he almost allways does polish his teeth after eating candy.
So snacking is fun and yummy, but not too much or too often and not forget to brush the teeth.

45. Does Sint Nicolaas comes from Spain? And why.
Sinterklaas in Spain

Saint Nicholas lived and worked in west-Asia. Through trade with Italy, he was also known in Italy. There is also his sarcophagus brought back later (in Bari). Italy was in those days partly from Spain. Spain was at that time a rich country where many luxury items and goodies came from. So the people in west-Europe thought that Saint Nicholas himself also came from there. All wish lists therefore were sent to Spain and then in Spain they had a very puzzling hassle to foind where those lists had to be delivered (Myra? , Bari? , Spain, but where in Spain). Therefore, the Saint then went to live in Spain, so now they know there were to deliver the lists and thus the wish list do sure reach the Saint's desk.

46. Why does Sinterklaas lives in Spain, and not in the Netherlands?

In Spain is Sinterklaas fairly unknown, so there he can just lead his life. In the Netherlands he would be a kind of celebrity, who almost never can go down the street unnoticed. There would be also no National Arrival and Parade, because he then is already every day of the year in the Netherlands. And the other festivities would also not nearly be as special as now, that would mean less fun for you and for himself. In addition, he also very fond of the warm Spanish weather.

47. Does Sinterklaas than live in Madrid?

When Sinterklaas did go live in Spanje, he did live first in Madrid. That is why many people still say that he lives in Madrid. But because that is not close to the sea or to a harbor, he later did move closer to the sea. Now his home is on a hill near the coast of Spain, close to a city with a harbor to the Mediteranian Sea.

48. How does Sinterklaas his home in Spain looks like on the inside and the outside?

His house is a stately house with 2 floors and an attic. On all 4 corners is a turret making it a bit appearing as a castle. The outside is gray-white plastered, and the roofs have red roof tiles. From the inside it is a cosy house. The walls are white, but sometimes this whit can not been seen, because there do hang on so many drawings of children. The Windows and Door openings have a Arabic/Moorish form. In the window openings are stained glass Windows, the doors are decorated with Moorish carvings. The ceilings are supported by solid wood beams. The bottom floor has tiling, the floors of the second floor and the attic are made of wood. Most furniture is of dark wood and the couches are a bit Oriental, with dark but bright colors.

Sinterklaas his Spanish house
49. Does Sinterklaas his house have also garden? And how does that looks like?

Yes, Sinterklaas also has a garden, a delightful garden. This is running all the way around the House. There are no flowers and plants in as you have in the Netherlands. In Spain it is much drier, hence there are many Succulents, which can well against the drought and there are palms. How everything is called, that know the Garden-Pete. He makes everything look beautiful. There are several terraces in the garden, so that the Saint and the Petes are always able to find a place in Sun or shade. And also there are ponds with fountains.

Sinterklaas his Spanish garden
50. Why does the Sint come with a steamboat?

In the past the Saint came all the way on horseback, but that always took a very long time. With a big sailing boat it could be done much easier but often not faster, and then were you also still dependent on the wind. With a steamer it was also easier and you were much faster and not dependent on the wind. And he could take much more presents and Petes with him. Therefore he started to come with a steamboat.
Nowadays it could also be done by a train or an airplane, but that the Saint does find that less cozy. In addition, Saint Nicholas is the Patron Saint (guardian) of the sailors and it would be a little weird if their Patron Saint would not like to come by sea.
And that is why he did stay coming with a steamboat.

51a. How fast is your ship?
51b. At what time does the Saint leave Spain every year?
Departure from Spain

Our Steamer is fast enough to bring them in about 3 weeks from Spain to the Netherlands. It depends a bit on how much wind there is and if they have wind blowing from the back or steaming against the wind. But the Saint wants to leave early, so usually they leave in the second week of October.

Depends on the Wind? It's a steamer, isn;t it?
Wel on a bike or in a Car you can feel the power of the wind also, isn't it. So even a steamer is slower against the wind and the streaming as he is fore the wind and pust by the Streaming. It's a simmilair difference as Biking uphill or downhill.

52. How big is your steamer? How many Petes can there be on board?

The steamer is very large, even longer as twenty meters. There is place for about fiveteen Petes on this ship. Because there is not room enough for all Petes and all Presents on the steamer, and because the steamer is to big for some harbors, there are always some smalle extra boats (pakjesboten=Presentsships) that go along with the steamer.

53. How does the ship looks from the inside?
de Scheepskooien

It is a large ship, But because there are so many Petes on board, is the inside divided into a number of smaller rooms. First of all, there are of course the wheelhouse, the engine-room and of course a ship's kitchen, the galley, where the food is being made. All the presents are loaded into the large Hold, the food they need along the way gets a place in the small Hold and the coales are going into the bunker next to the Engineroom.
And then there's one place, the cabin, where they sit when they sit indoors during the day or if they eat. And finally their cabins, the ship's cages, where they sleep, which are small wooden areas, with a low ceiling. To be able to walk upright, the longest Petes therefore prefer to walk on the deck.
Maybe you are thinking that you do mis something, the stable for the horse? Well that is not there, because the Horse is brought over land by train or in a car with a trailor. THat is done so he can be waiting on the quay when the steamer arrives.

54. Did it ever happen that your boat broke down?

Of the previous boats there were a few that did give problems, Yes. Fortunately, there are never been serious things broke down en route to the Netherlands. Twenty years ago on the way back, they had one time very bad luck. Luckely they did get the boat to a port, where the technical Petes have sought help in repairing. They do check the ships thoroughly before making a big trip. There are also some smaller boats with the steamer on each trip. And the Petes can themselves do many repairs. It is therefore always a safe trip.

55. Does the Saint ever come too late in the Netherlands due to bad weather?

No! The Saint insists that they always leave something too early from Spain, so that if there are some glitches along the way, there is always time enough to resolve them and to arrive on time. It would be terrible if all those sweet children would be for nothing to sing along the quays in the Netherlands! So even when the Saint did sometime came a bit later (minutes) he was never really to late.

56. Does the Saint not suffer from the cold as he is in the winter in the Netherlands?
the Scarf of Sinterklaas

No, he never suffers from the cold, the great thing about cold is that you can dress yourself well against it, and so he does. He has, for example, even a special scarf for that. And of course, an extra layer of (under) clothing helps a lot too.

57. Why does Sinterklaas has help from Black Pete?
Sinterklaas with Black Pete

A helper is very useful, one who, while everyone has their attentions at Sinterklaas, is able to do things unnoticed, such as hiding gifts and throw peppernuts etc.. And ofcourse he helps the Saint to get on or of the horse and whit rriding on the roof etc... That is why Sinterklaas likes to have a helper with him. Why that helper is called Black Pete, we will explain in the answer on one of the following questions.

58. How old is (Black/Dark) Pete?

Black Pete is younger as Sinterklaas. For 2 reasons: First, he did appear much later, secondly he is not proclamed to be Holy and only Holyman (Saints) can life for centuries.
How old a Pete is, that knows that Pete and Saint Nicholas ofcourse because he has that noted in his Big Book.
So on a surtain time a Black Pete does retire, just like regular people, and will be succeeded by a new Pete.

59. Do they get born as a (Black) Pete or can anyone become to be a (Black) Pete?

No, they are not born as a Pete. Te become a real Pete nowadays, they have to succeed the very heavy Pete training. And that also in their free time, because they have to go to school also (if they are still young) or go to work also (if they already are older). But besides that, YES, anyone (white, black, yellow, red, brown, young {not too young}, old {not too old}, short or long) can become a Pete. If a married Piet does gets a baby then that's called a Petes-baby and that than is also sometimes called a BabyPete, but it is not a true Piet (so also not a Baby-Pete) yet. Without a diploma of the Petes Training one is not a real Pete.

60. Does the Saint is assisted by 1 Pete or by several Petes?

In the past Sinterklaas had only 1 assistent/servant with him (Petermanservant=Pietermanknecht, MasterPete=Pieterbaas, BlackPete) when he did come to the Netherlands. Nowadays he takes always several Petes wit him. So yes, he has is assited by several Petes.

61. How many Petes does Sinterklaas have in total? Are there also Help-Petes?

Sinterklaas ' has ' not the Petes. They hear simply all together and they help each other. Some live with him in Spain and some live in the country they are visiting. With each other, are the a lot. This is actually a nice question for the House-Pete, he does each year an attempting to count them all but every time it goes wrong again. Will there then maybe be two hundred? No, there are many more, but how many exactly, that is something the Hous-Pete will never succeed in getting an answer for.
Why not? Now, Sinterklaas has a number of permanent Petes in service (ca 25), which go back to Spain with him, and in addition Sinterklaas has, in Netherlands and Belgium, quite a lot of temporary Petes in service (at least several hundred and perhaps a few thousand!), that his so-called reserve/spare-Petes, (help Petes). They all have succesfully done the complete Pete training (Petes school and some practice years) and are proud owners of the real Petes diploma, but they only act as Petes when Sinterklaas does need them in Netherlands or Belgium. They have in addition to their Pete-job also their ordinary job and often a family. The number of these Back-up Petes that at one time are active in the Saint service, is from day to day (and sometimes even from hour by hour!) different. So before the House-Pete can conclude his Counting, the number has already changed (most likely even more as onces)So he will never get a conclusive count. And then there are the pupil-Petes (pupils from the Pete school) and also the Petes in training (Pios) who have already finished the school and now have to go through their practice years before they become an accomplished Pete. And then, of course, are the also the retired Petes.
All in all, just too many to count, especially since many of the Petes are working in other places as where the House-Pete tries to count.

62. Is a HelpPete a real Pete or is he fake?

As you may have read in the previous question, the real help-Petes are also real Petes. The kind many people do think it is a helpPete, are in fact fake-Petes. Ordinary people without a real Petes diploma, who do like to to dress up and perform as a (Black) Pete. They should not be visiting little children.

63. How long does a Pete stay a Pete? Is he a Pete for his whole live?

An accomplished Piet is usually older as 20 years, a Pete in training (Pio) is sometimes a bit younger and a pupilPete can be yet younger again. A Pete usually goes around his 60th with the Petes-pension. A chimney-Pete who most climb a lot retires much earlier and a librarian Pete retires what later.
Can he thean be Pete for his whole live? NO and YES.
NO, he was first a normal child and a normal young adult, before he became a Pete.
Yes, Once you are a real Pete, then you are a Pete for the rest of your live, even after you got your pension. You do know than all the Pete-secrets and die naturely you thenm are not alowed to tell them, That's why a Pete always stays a Pete. "Once a Pete, always a Pete!" is the proud motto of the Petes.

64. Howcan you become a MajorPete (Headpete) and can everybody become a MajorPete. Is there 1 MajorPete or are there more?
Meisjes Piet

You have to have been a real Pete before you can become a MajorPete. Without the diploma from the Pete Eduction you are not a real Pete. After this difficute and extended basiseduction is there yet another extra education to follow to become a MajorPete. This is not something many Petes find to haevy for them.
Still there are several Petes with the MajorPete certifigate, very often they do lead a small section, for example HeadPete Stables, HeadPete Kitchen etc..
Every year 1 of them comes with SaintNicholas to the Netherlands, that does not be the same al the time !!

65. Can you, as HeadPete, also retire?

Yeah sure, a Headpete ca, just like all normals alle Pete retire on a surtain moment of time. He will be followedup by a new Headpete.

66. Are there also female Petes? Or are Petes always men?
Girly Pete

In te past St Nicholas always took only male Petes with him to the Netherlands, but nowadays there are also many female Petes with him. It is not about whether they are male or female, but whether they are needed. And the one who can do the required work the best, is the one the Saint will chose.

67. Do the Petes may marry?

Yeah sure. Especially with the Standby/Help Petes you can see many married Petes.
What a StandbyPetes or HelpPetes are, we did already tell you in the answer to a previous question.

68a. Why is a Pete always called a Pete?

Saint Nicholas his first helper was called Nicodemus, that was the Saint his best friend when the Saint was still a Bishop. He often accompanied the Saint on histirps in the evening and/or the night in which the Saint brought gifts and money. This Nicodemus was a very studied man and knew much and could therefore also much. The seafaring traders who brought the first stories about St. Nicholas to Europe, did not know exactly how Nicodemus was called, but they knew that he was very helpful and knew a lot.
In the past in shipping they called a man who could be used for everything a "Pieterman" (Peterman). so those traders told that the Saint had a Pieterman as a helper/servant. (In Belgium the Petes are still called 'Pietermanknecht' =Peterman-servant.)
Later 'Knecht Pieterman' (=Servant Peterman), 'Pietermanknecht'(=Petermanservant), 'Pieterbaas' (= MasterPete, where master means master of his trade), did change to just "Piet" (Pete), because that was easier and because the female Pieten for example did like that PieterMAN (=peterMAN) less. Actually "Pete" does mean "Helper of Sinterklaas". That is why is even today, each helper of the Saint is called a Pete or masterPete or Peterman or Petermanservant. Because that's the name of his function. Of course, all Pete do have also their own name, a Pete name can be for example Mario or Diego. He is than Pete Mario or Pete Diego. Or to distinhim from others he/she does get a name associated with his/her special function, Like 'HoofdPiet' (Head/BossPete), 'HuisPiet' (Home/Housekeper Pete), 'TestPiet' (TestPete) and 'ProfPiet' (ProfessorPete).
When Sinterklaas, every time he something to say to several Petes at the same time, has to call: "Pete Mario 1, Pete Mario 2, Pete Pedro 1 to 5, Piet, Pete Diego, Pete Ramon, Pete Pascal, etc. etc etc, pay attention here ", then he is busy for half an hour each time, therefore the Saint just calls, "Pete! Please Note!" That is much faster and easier. Therefore is a Pete usually also called just "Pete" by the Saint. And it's als easier to remember for the kids

68b. And why is a Pete then often called "Black Pete"?

The scholar Nicodemus (see previous question), often went with Bishop Nicholas on its nighttime tours. He made his face and hands dark to blend in to the night and not to be recognized. Note that in that time colordust (and paint also) was very expensive. A scholar was a man of respect (even much more special as a bishop!!!!) but they got mostly but a frugal payroll, sometimes they had even to live of the gifts of the other people. So the learned Nicodemus most likely did do that dark making with the cheapest material he could find. Charcoal you can find (free) at each fire, so it is virtually certain that Nicodemus darkned his face and hands with charcoal (effect = dark or black). In his time one did just that with dark smudges on the face. And his successors maintained custom. So the stories were about a dark (or black) made Pieterman. "Darkend/blackened Pieterman" later became "Dark/Black Pieterman", and yet again later, this became "Zwarte Piet" (Dark/Black Piet).
Also nowadays the Petes do make their faces still dark, partly because of the tradition started by Nicodemus, partly because the Standby/Help Petes than can not be recognised by children as being their neighbor or the Baker from the end of the street etc..
Painting ('schminken') the face completely (also the ears!) was first done in the year 1945 after the liberation, when Canadian 'Negro' soldiers (a term from that era) were temporarily Help Petes. They were, as an exception, accepted without having done the special Pete scholing.
Why 'Negrosoldiers'? In the time of the black American slaves (Negro slaves) there were many slaves fled to Canada because there slavery was already abolished. As a result there lived in Canada many people of African descent and for many of those people, there was no work and therefore many did take service in the army. And thereby there were thus many Canadian 'Negro'soldiers. These soldiers found it an honor to play 'Zwarte Piet' (They called it Black Pete and not Dark Pete), but found that than the face of the other Petes also had to be made up as 'Negro'Petes, so that they would be all equal. Also the talking with funny Dutch language mistakes was created at the request of this Canadian Petes so that the other Petes would talk the same as them. Out of gratitude and tribute to this liberators were for many years afterwards the Petes still maked-up as a 'black type'Pete and they also spoke for many years the 'Black Petes language' from that liberation year. Under influence of many Moluccan and Antillean HelpPetes, the Petes do turn year by year back into lighter coloured Petes and also, for example, into Petes with Netherlands Antilles hair style and accent. And nowadays there are so other HelpPetes that chose to have their Petes face painted in a lighter color. Brown is seen as more friendly or as black, many children who are not afraid of a Brown horse are affraid for a black horse. Or they are afraid of the dark of their bedroom and so can you name still more examples that dark or black is felt as threatening. The song "There is a knocking on the door", does mention this also in a very old version of the song: "... 'though I am black from the soot, my intentions are good. ..." That they are black from chimneysoot ( from listen at the chimney, and from sliding down the chimney), was formerly said to the children, because most children in those times had no awareness of make-up and facepaint. But if you do use your brains a little bit then you will understand that the one Piet can not become Brown and another become Black from the same soot. And than should their clothes also be dirty and there you can see usually no Speck on. Nowadays the children do think about thes things and then get confused (What is true and what is not). This is why Sinterklaas means that this 'Pete-secret' (painting the face for camouflage/disguise) has to be told now. The children will now understand that well, he says. "Een echte Piet is een Echte Piet, met schmink of niet" A real Piet is a RealPete, with make-up or not, says the Saint than with a smile.

69a. Is a Pete always a "Black" Pete and never a "white" or "yellow" Pete?

A Pete is what he is from birth, blank, yellow, red, brown or black. It is true that the HelpPetes all still like to be camouflaged (disguised) during their work. What that 'black' or dark concerns, the Petes (ListeningPetes, RoofPetes, ChimneyPetes, ParcelsPetes) who does visit the houses in the evening or the night, do of course, not want to stand out in the dark. And with white or yellow camouflage you stand out very much in the dark, so therefore they prefer a dark camouflage. The Petes who work in the library or in the kitchen or in the garden, actually need not to be camouflaged. But when they did try this once at a Arrival and Parade, with Petes without their dark camouflage, (there were then Petes in all kinds of colors), most of the children did scare and became very affraid then. And therefore, for the time being, there will be almost no white, yellow, red, blue or green Petes in an Arrival or Parade.
That is why the tradition will still show dark Petes and we still talk about 'Black/Dark Petes'. But actually it should not matter whether Pete is black, white or yellow or any color whatsoever. People are also all equal, what skin color they have or what country they come from, so if a Pete today still likes to be darkcolored than he must be alowed to do so, he is should not be treated different because of that, we're going to not discriminate isn't it so?

69b. How does a Pete than get so Dark/Black or Brown and how does he stay that way?

We have already said in the previous answer, the (Help)Petes use make-up. This happens with real Petes facepaint (not coming from the Party store) made by ProfPete which hold some ingredients that makes the 'schmink" waterproof and 'washing' resist for an extended period of time. This ProfPete patented Petesfacepaint (Brown or black) is there in 3 types:
-day'schmink' (= light version, holds only 1 day long, not to wash away,
-week'schmink' (= ordinary version, holds about a week, even in the shower!)
-month 'schmink' (strong version, that, the name says it already, last about a month).
These 'schminks' can also be combined, for example, should a Pete need wear "schmink' for a periode of 2 weeks than first he uses the 'Weekschmink'-facepaint for the first week and the week after that week he does use right again a portion of the 'weekschmink' for the 2nd week. Also this knowledge belonged until recently to the Petes-secrets, but, as explained with a previous question, Sinterklaas does mean that it now has to be told (and explained)

70. Why does Sinterklaas ride during the Parade and do the Petes walk?

Sinterklaas is already an old man and such an Arrival and Parade can be very tiring, therefore he rides on a horse or is he driven (in a car or coach). The Petes are much younger, they find that walking no problem. In some places, The Petes are sitting the car or coach next to Sinterklaas, or they ride on a car with gifts or on a bicycle. But the most Petes just like the walking. It is also much easier they find. You can more easily walk to the children, shake their hands or give them candy or receive drawings, then when you're on a horse. All Petes on horses won't succeed either, because you always need to have the HorsePete walking next to the horses for holding those horses. In addition, all Petes on horse would take much more space as with walking Petes, and then there would be less room for the public. Also then should be much more horse manure cleaned up afterwards. And a naughty Pete did says: We're sometimes going just over the fences, to make a bit of fun between the public or in a store. That would all be impossiblewhen riding on horseback. So let us please but walk, do the Petes say, then it will turn out very well.

71. Which Pete does Sinterklaas find the dearest or the nicest Pete?
71b. And which Piet does he find the naughtiest Pete?

Sinterklaas does find all the Petes equally dear. Sometimes he finds one Piet what nicer and other times another Pete. That's like at your home. The one time you'll find the one the dearest and other times another, but in the end you'll find everyone equally nice.
Actually they are all very nice. The Petes where he most laughs about are the jokes-Petes. But because they always make jokes, they are sometimes also naughty.

72. If a Pete is naughty, what punishment does he/she gets then?

Some Petes are indeed naughty sometimes. A little bit naughty, the Saint does not mind very much. But also if it's really naughty behavior, they hardly ever get punnished. The Saint tells them why something is naughty, so they understand why it may not happen again. If they are then naughty again, they get a warning. And every Pete that after a first warning is very naughty again, may not go with Sinterklaas to the Netherlands. Because all Petes really like to go to the Netherlands, they are not too often naughty.

73. Why do Sinterklaas and the Petes speak Dutch actually?

Why Sinterklaas and his Petes do speak Dutch in the Netherlands? Well that is logical, otherwise nobody there would understand them ther in the Netherlands! When they are in the Netherlands, they speak 'Netherlands'(=dutch language), in Belgium they speak Flemish or French, in Germany they speak German and in Spain they do speak Spanish. That proved to be usefull. Just because of that, is why the Sint has Stanby-Help Petes in those Lands. They speak thus their own language, and the Saint and the Petes that came with him from Spain do speak those Languages also.

74. What is the origin of the Petes-suit?

The Petes wear the clothing of a 16th-century footboy. So the Petes-suit is actually a "footboy-suit".
Footboys were the personal servants of high-ranking gentlemen such as Dukes and Princes and Bishops. So the people meaned that Saint Nicholas should also have a footboy, hence that Pete did get a Footboy's costume.

75. Why do the Saint and Pete go on the roofs by night?
Pete on the roof

Saint Nicholas wanted not been seen when he brought the gifts, so the people would not know it came from him. That is why he and his assistant brought all gifts and goodies in the dark, so in the night.
Old folk tales say that the gifts and the goodies came down the chimney into the living room. And to be able to throw them in the chimneys you have to go over the rooftops.

76. How do the Petes come inside a house without a chimney?
And how do they come in a shed?

That is of course always the question of many children without a fireplace. All houses used to have a fireplace, so that the Saint and the Petes through the chimney could carry out their tasks. Now there are barns, flats and without chimneys, the Saint have devised some tricks along with his Petes. But unfortunately for you, they want to keep those tricks secret. There are just 2 things they did want to tell.
How do you get in a House if there is no chimney is and if you don't have a key?
Then you need a locksmith.
In the old days a smith was mostly allround, he was Smith (all normal ironwork), Blacksmith (Horses and carriages), Weaponsmith (weapons harnesses,shields) and also Locksmith (keys etc). So you needed a Smith to get inside such a house. Maybe you did hear sometime the famous saying; "That's the secret of the smith", and nobody did tell you what it exactly was? Well, how you enter such a house is thus that famous secret of the smith. What you need for that (Some kind of key?) and how you make it, they won't tell you.
When there is no chimney and no open door or window then the Petes do use the secret of the Smith. Unfortunately they won't tell us what that exactly is, so we can not tell you.
But ... maybe its possible that the Petes are sometimes dark of soot from working at the smithsfire? Maybe they were forging a master key (= skeleton key, a special key that fits on a lot of locks)? Agian who knows, they won't tell us.
And the second was that the Saint revealed that sometimes they get a little help from your parents.

77. Why did/does a Pete have always a rod and a bag with him?

Often a Pete has to wipe the chimney clean with the rod in order to get the gifts come down clean and tidy. The bag is a convenient means of transport for the gifts and the sweets.
The bigger bags are used to transport the presents, the smaller bags are for the candy that he does trow.

78. Were/Are there sometimes naughty children put in the bag and taken to Spain?

Never. Sint Nicolaas loves the children and wants them no grief. Therefore he lets them always with their father and mother.
And what about that story about naughty boys who are put in the bag for punishment and taken to Spain? That is so not true. That misunderstanding has arisen, because there was once a naughty boy, who had run away from home because he feared punishment and who wanted to escape to Spain. He secretly did hide in a empty bag between the other (empty) bags, and as he was hoisted on board unnoticed. When they discovered him at sea (he had to forecome suffering from hunger by eaten the roots for the white horse all the while). Once discovered he did get punished ofcourse and was placed on a passing boat so he could be brought back home.
To bragg about it, he told his vrindjes of course that the Petes had taken him and that he did escape. And that is how stories do arise that are not true but still beare believed to be true, from the imatination of somebody who is twisting some facts and combines them.
A few years late did Bernard the Naughty Boy travel all by himself to Spain agian ,because he had a quarrel with his mother. Years later Saint Nicholas succeeded in rbinging them together again, and let them both becaome a Pete. And so they both live now in Spain together in peace and both work for Saint Nicholas

79. Are the bags of Sinterklaas made of jute?

The large bags of Sinterklaas are indeed often made of jute. Jute is a soft, shiny and long fiber that can be spun into strong threads. And because the material is biodegradable, it is also good for the environment. Sometimes the Saint uses also large velour bags, that when has to look a litle bit posh, for example in a Sinterklaas movie.
The small bags with throwgoodies are usually of linen or Jute with a linen's inner pocket, but the Saint has also a couple small bags of velour.

80. Does Sinterklaas also have a holiday?

In Spain, the Saint almost all year works very hard on the preparations for his stay in the Netherlands. Maybe you know a little how busy he is once he is in the Netherlands. However, for him that are very pretty weeks, that also feel a little like vacation. When they are back in Spain, and everything is cleaned up, the Saint and the Petes have a week completely free. However, they like to stay at home that week. But then of course he goes on holiday together with Santa Claus every year.

81. A boy asked: "Do you want to stay with me and my family for a couple af days?"

Sinterklaas replied, "Oh, what a sweet question. That does seem a very nice idea, therefore I am sorry to say that it is a great pity that I must disappoint you. The Petes and I always sleep on the boat or together in a hotel. We sleep very often until late at night, because we have such a packed programme in Netherlands, certainly when it is bedtime for the children. That does not fit within the rhythm of a normal family".

82. When does Sinterklaas come to the Netherlands again?

Sinterklaas arrives every year in the Netherlands on the first Saturday after the Saint Martin Feast. (So he comes each year on the first Saturday after 11 november).

And as a Bonus also added a few questions about both Saint Nicholas (Sinterklaas) and Santa Claus.

You can see by the numbering, that there is still room for some more Sinterklaas questions.

101. Are Sinterklaas and Santa Claus one and the same? Because they are both called Saint Nicholas (Sankt Nikolaus)?

In the past Sinterklaas and father Christmas were not the same. But then some of the stories and some of the traditonns around Sinterklaas came to America and the people there called him Sankte Claes (old Dutch for Sinter Klaas). So Yes, Sinterklaas and Sankte Claes are the same. And when Father Christmas did retite his job in America, the Fairies wanted Saint Nicholas to take his place. So that first year in America the giftsbringer on Christmas was indeed Sinterklaas, therefore he got the name Sankte Claes .
But when the people there started to change the looks and the traditons of Sankte Claus more and more, no white horse anymore but a horse and carriage and later reindeer for a sleigh, no Mitre but a hat, no more presents on 5 or 6 december, but with the Christmas (See the Movie "Santa and Pete"), then Sinterklaas found it was time that one of his younger cousins, who stood in for him in America on several occasions, should take it over there in America. And Yes, that cousin also had the surname StNicolaas, in German is that Sankt Nikolaus or Sankte Claus. Hence the similarity in the names of Sinterklaas and Santa Claus.
Therefore they later adapted the working name of the Christmasbringer of gifts to "Santa Claus" and did the Fairies gave him gnomes and Elves as helpers. So you can know that they are now no longer one and the same. Santa Claus also got a new residence. First he stayd as a guest in the accommodation of Father Christmas in the forests in the North, then he got a home in the eternal ice on Greenland (where Santa Claus still lives according to the Danes) and Santa Claus later moved to a residence within the Northern Polar Circle.

102. Does Santa Claus know Saint Nicholas (Sinterklaas)?

Yes, Santa Claus is even a very good friend of Saint Nicholas (Sinterklaas), they know each other for years and do also regularly visit eachother. Occasionally they even go on holiday together.

Santa Claus en Saint Nicholas (Sinterklaas) samen op vakantie aan de zee

103. Why does Santa Claus vist more countries as Saint Nicholas (Sinterklaas)?

Because Santa Claus was younger as Saint Nicholas (Sinterklaas), he was also linked to newer and faster transportation options. So rides Saint Nicholas (Sinterklaas) on one horse over rooftops and roads and through the streets, while Santa Claus flies through the air by Elfs magic in a by 8 reindeer pulled sleigh. To streets and roads do hear curves and angles, Up and down houses makes a track also longer, through the air you can go in a straight line (so shorter and faster) and 8 pulling animals (reindeer) are of course always faster as 1 mount, and then the Elfs magic does make a great different also, because flying is always faster as riding.
So Santa Claus can go faster around the world, that's the one reason he does visit more countries.
The other reason is that many countries have their own customs, and Saint Nicholas (Sinterklaas) just does like the old Saint Nicholas (Sinterklaas) traditions so very much. That is why the Saint has something like "If they want to do it differently, fine, then they may do so, no problem, but then also with another Visitor." Saint Nicholas (Sinterklaas) therefore is very happy that Santa Claus did take it over in those countries.

104. What does Santa Claus think of Saint Nicholas (Sinterklaas)? Are they now competitors?
Sinterklaas en Santa Claus en de hoofdelf

Saint Nicholas (Sinterklaas) does mean that Santa Claus does his job very well. And they are certainly not competitors. On the contrary, they are still very good friends and often they even do work together. Sometimes a gift asked from Saint Nicholas (Sinterklaas), that because of delivery problems was too late for StNicholas Eve (pakjesavond), was still delivered later by Santa Claus.
And sometimes a gift asked from Santa Claus where speed was needed, was already brought by the Saint so that it would be deliverd on time. For example, when someone who between 6 december and 25 december would move or when that the gift for other reasons should be delivered already before it was Christmas.

105. Should we now celebrate Saint Nicholas (Sinterklaas) or should we choose for Santa Claus?

Of course, Saint Nicholas (Sinterklaas) does prefer that in the Netherlands and Belgium the public do continue to celebrate the Saint Nicholas (Sinterklaas) festival and then with the real Saint Nicholas (Sinterklaas) traditions as much as possible.
Do people however prefer that Santa Claus does visit them, because that suits better for example by special circumstances, then that will not make Sint Nicholas sad or angry. He just hopes that the next time it will be his turn again.
For as far it does concern Santa Claus, he has the same opinion as Sint Nicholas, ofcourse he does prefer to be asked again in those countries he was asked before. But he has nothing against an occasional visit of Saint Nicholas and also nothing against a Sint Nicholas parade in (for example) a town with inhabitants from Dutch origin.

106a. May you also celebrate both Saint Nicholas (Sinterklaas) and Santa Claus? And celebrate both St. Nicholas Eve and Christmas Eve?
106b. And may you ask presents from both of them?

If you want to celebrate Saint Nicholas his parade or Saint Nicholas Eve then nobody can forbid that. Christmas is about much more then just the presents of Santa Claus, so Christmas may always be celebrated naturly. So who is to stop you from celebrating themm both? In fact Santa Claus and Saint Nicholas are celebrating both themselves! The one by bringing presents to the children, the other by getting presents themselves from the other Giftsbringer.

Yes! Indeed there are parents who ask if both Saint Nicholas (Sinterklaas) as well as Santa Claus will bring their children presents. For example, with Saint Nicholas (Sinterklaas) a few small gifts and at Christmas some bigger presents, or the other way around.
Then Saint Nicholas (Saint Nicholas) and Santa Claus will deliberate together to arrange who will give what, so that the child would not get the same gift twice, that pitiful for that child.
But they both do watch also very carefully how much they each do give, so that this child will get not more presents as children where only Saint or Santa Claus, is bringing the presents, Becaus otherwise it would not be fair on those other kids.

Note: In this answer we do name Saint Nicholas before Santa Claus all the time, but that is only because his St.Nicholas parade and his Festival are dated each year before the Christmas Periode.

107. Who then is more important now, Santa Claus or Saint Nicholas (Sinterklaas)?

As Saint Nicholas (Sinterklaas) and Santa Claus both do say:
It is not a question of who is more important, it is also not a question of whom you are asking for presents. It is not even a question of from whom you do get your presents.
It is all about people learning again that it is important to think about others and to care for others. And it is about that children learn that they also are important and that they sometimes may get extras (time, attention, gifts) and then later as they are adults themselves that they also do think about others and give attention to children. That's the most important!

Source refering:
The 'Saint Nicholas and Santa Claus Archive (Sinterklaas en Kerstman Archief)' from J.W. Koning
From were we did get all info above.

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The website is an initiative from private persons. The object with this site is to offer non commercial information about several aspects about the Histories of St Nicholas and Santa Claus and the believes and festivals around them and the customs belonging to those festivals. So parents and childeren will find it easier to keep the stories alive.

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