Sinterklaas in the Netherlands

hr-sinterklaasThe Legend of Sinterklaas (St Nicholas), a Spanish Bishop, and the Patron Saint of Merchants and Sailors, began in 271 AD.  Traditionally he arrives by ship around the 15th November with his Moorish servant, Zwarte Piet, a grinning fellow, whose sack of goodies when emptied carries naughty children away! He hands out kruidnoten, which are small hard ginger flavoured biscuits to all the children. He rides a white horse and each night, children put their shoes at the hearth with carrots and straw for the horse in anticipation of gifts.  But it is not until the 5th December, that Sinterklaas is celebrated with the exchanging of gifts.