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Lisa's Box of Treasures Our jewel at VisitAruba.com - Lisa has many gems to share with you. She has a wealth of information about Aruba - and if she doesn't know, she will find out! :) So, enjoy and ask away!

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Old Wednesday, December 12th, 2007, 11:41 AM
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LocaLisa LocaLisa is offline
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Default Sinterklaas

Hear the wind blow through the trees,
even here inside the house we feel the gust of the wind.
Will the good Saint Nicholas still come, now that the weather is so bad?
Now that the weather is so bad

Yes, he rides in the darkest nights
on his horsy oh so fast
If he knew how anxiously we are waiting for sure he would come.
Yes, for sure he would come.

This song kept going through my mind as I lay in bed, looking through my bedroom window. The stars were shining brightly and the night was very clear. Even though the weather wasn’t bad, I was very nervous, but anxious with expectation.

Earlier that afternoon, I wrote a letter for Sinterklaas. I wrote a poem and drew him and Zwarte Piet with colored pencils. On the back I wrote my wish: a beautiful doll in a blue dress with a comb so I could comb her hair.
After making sure everything was good I rolled the paper up and tied it with a red ribbon I found the day before from my mother's night table. I picked my best shoe from the closet and cleaned it clean with a towel I found hanging in the bathroom. I grabbed a carrot from the fridge and filled a cup with water. I took my bounty outside to prepare everything. The carrot, which was Amerigo’s snack, went into the shoe together with the rolled up letter and next to that, the water. I thought I filled it up completely but it wasn’t. I went back inside to get some more water and re- filled the cup next to the shoe. Pleased with how everything looked I went to take a shower and went to bed.

I wasn’t sleepy yet because my heart was beating really fast. I knew Sinterklaas would come by, read my poem while his horse would enjoy the snack I put outside for him. What excited me most was of course the thought of my gift and sweets. I yawned and felt more relaxed…

There he was! There was Amerigo! What a beautiful white horse. He carried Sinterklaas as if he were feather light. The Zwarte Piets were jumping over the rooftops like it was nothing! They all ended up on my front porch where I left my shoe, the letter and the snack for the horse. One Piet was feeding the horse and Sinterklaas was reading my letter. I could see by the look in his eyes that he liked it. They even sparkled when he ran his eyes across my drawing! He turned it around and kept on reading. I think he was smiling...

“Lazy bum! Time for breakfast, the sun is already out!” Mom was yelling from the kitchen like every…morning? I got up realizing it was all a dream and ran outside. The shoe was where I left it but the carrot was gone. The cup was till next to the shoe but it was empty! My letter was gone too and in its place was…a ‘roe’ (read: roo, a bundle of dry sticks tied at one end). Disappointed I picked up my shoe to put it back where it belonged when I saw a paper underneath it. I took it, unfolded it and read:

Dearest little girl,
First of all, Thank you very much for the snack you left for my horse. He was very hungry and thirsty. As you can see he didn't leave a drop in the cup. You have great talent; I don’t know anyone who can draw so well. I showed Piet the drawing and he said he's not that fat. Between you and me, you drew him much slimmer than he actually is, so he was right. He’s not that fat, he’s much fatter! Hahahahaha. We all loved your poem, and we'll keep your letter among our favorites. When we were about to leave your gift, we heard your mom yelling and complaining. Piet went to see what that was about. She said you spilled water all over the floor, from the kitchen through the living room to the porch. She had just hung a clean hand towel in the bathroom and you left it on the bathroom floor with grime on it. You even took a ribbon she was going to use on her new kitchen curtains from her nightstand and it was nowhere to be found. That Piet felt very sorry for your mom to have such a naughty daughter and left his “roe” for you. That’s what naughty children get instead of gifts.”

I felt so sad and wanted to rip up the paper when I saw a very small “p.t.o.” on the bottom right corner. I turned it over and saw that there was more written on the back:

“However, one other Piet disagreed with him and sat down on your porch to think about it all. He stayed there almost the whole night and caught up with us when the sun was already rising. He said that he refused to believe you were a naughty girl seeing the care you took to make such a nice letter with a poem and drawing. You even thought about my horse Amerigo, by leaving him a snack. He figured that you must have spilled the water when taking the cup outside and that the grime on the hand towel was from polishing your shoe to put the carrot and the letter, which had your mother’s ribbon around it, in. When I heard this I was very proud but most of all relieved! I gave him the gift that was meant for you and a surprise to. He had to run back to your house to deliver it. I think you should go look under your bed now…”

I ran to my room with a big smile on my face and my heart pounding in my throat. I looked under the bed and.....it was true! What a surprise! The most beautiful doll in a blue cotton dress, with long wavy hair and a bag of goodies, filled with marzipan, a chocolate letter, “pepernoten” and a comb. She even had a gold chain with a heart pendant around her neck. It shimmered very nicely and I took it between my fingers to look at it more closely. There was an inscription: “Love, Sin”. I held the doll close to my chest, closed my eyes and saw Sinterklaas’ smiling face and sparkling eyes.

Sinterklaas or San Nicolas is a traditionally Dutch holiday, celebrated every year on the night of December 5th. Being part of the Dutch kingdom, Aruba also celebrates this holiday. The feast celebrates the name day of Saint Nicholas, patron saint of children. He was a Greek bishop of Myra (today Turkey) and became the patron saint of children based on various legends that include resurrecting children from death and saving them from prostitution.

He has a long white beard, wears a red bishop's dress and red miter (bishop's hat). He holds a crosier (long gold colored staff with a fancy curled top) and a big book with all the children's names in it, stating whether they have been good or naughty during the year. He rides a white horse called Amerigo and is assisted by many mischievous helpers with black faces and colorful outfits, modeled after Moorish/ Spanish clothing. They’re all called Zwarte Piet (Black Pete) in Dutch and we Arubans adopted this name into our vocabulary. Originally Sinterklaas had only one helper, supposedly from African origin, whose name was Piet or Pieter (Pete/Peter). Through the years, many have accused this tradition of being racist, and stories about Zwarte Piet’s real origin and background have come and go, always changing or adapting this characters' mythos.

Every year in November, thousands of children welcome Sinterklaas at the Aruba Ports Authority. They sing songs for him as he arrives by steamboat from Spain. Once ashore, he parades through L. G. Smith Boulevard to Havenstraat (behind the Royal Plaza Mall) to finalize at the Census office. There, activities for kids are held with music and animators. This event is broadcasted live on national television and radio stations so everyone can see Sinterklaas and his Zwarte Piets throwing candy and pepernoten (read pay-per note-an, small round ginger bread-like cookies) into the crowd. During his stay, Sinterklaas visits schools, hospitals, shopping centers and parties.

On the night of his birthday, December 5th, he brings gifts and sweets to the children who behaved well throughout the year while they sleep.
Before going to bed, children put their shoes outside, with a carrot, some hay or sugar cubes in it for Sinterklaas's horse. They add a letter which they’ve written for Sinterklaas, telling him what gift they would like, sing a song and go to bed. In the morning they wake up to find that the horse has indeed eaten the snack they left and their gift and sweets. Typical sweets treats from Sinterklaas are chocolate letters, usually the first of the child’s name, chocolate coins, a chocolate figurine of Sinterklaas wrapped in decorated aluminum foil. Colored marzipan shaped into fruits, animals or other objects, Taai-Taai (read: tie-tie, chewy bits of gingerbread) and lots of Pepernoten.

Children who behave well are sure to find the gift they asked for in their letter, but the ill behaving kids are told that Zwarte Piet will leave them his roe ( read: roo, a bundle of sticks tied together at the top) or a small bag filled with salt. In the worst case they might be put in the gunny sack in which Zwarte Piet carries the presents, and be taken away with them to Spain when they go back. This practice however has been condemned by Sinterklaas in his more recent television appearances as something of the past.
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Old Wednesday, December 12th, 2007, 12:18 PM
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Eagle-Beach Boy Eagle-Beach Boy is offline
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Default Re: Sinterklaas

Thank you for GREAT story.
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Old Wednesday, December 12th, 2007, 12:52 PM
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Default Re: Sinterklaas

Lisa -

Thank you so much for this story! I really enjoyed it and learned alot! Funny, how Christmas traditions are similar throughout the world!
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Old Wednesday, December 12th, 2007, 01:13 PM
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Default Re: Sinterklaas

that was a wonderful story lisa. it is so great to learn from you.
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Old Monday, November 10th, 2008, 06:14 PM
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Default Re: Sinterklaas

When is he arriving by boat this year? I hope I didn't miss him!!!
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Old Tuesday, November 11th, 2008, 01:27 PM
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LocaLisa LocaLisa is offline
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Default Re: Sinterklaas

Hi Lizzardo,

He is arriving on November 16, the parade will start around 4.30pm the usual route. This year there will be also a parade in San Nicolaas on December 5 (his birthday) this is a first time event making history. He will meet the kids at Rodgers Beach at 3.00pm, the parade start from there to Lago Heights, Juana Morto, Rooi Hundo, Weg Fontein, Brasil, Caya Grandi, Mainstreet, St. Maartenstraat, Lagoweg and Helfrightstraat. He will stay a little at the new bus station (San Nicolaas) from 5.00pm to 6.00pm.

I hope you can make it, I'll be there with my son.
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Old Wednesday, November 12th, 2008, 11:04 AM
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Default Re: Sinterklaas

I love this event - have been there 2 times (missed it last year)!

Love to see the kids reaction to swarte pete - a love / fear thing going on -
but it's great to see that tugboat pull in with all the swarte petes and sinterklass!!!
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Old Wednesday, November 12th, 2008, 01:36 PM
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Default Re: Sinterklaas

OMG! I miss Sinterklaas.. I will definitely follow this tradition with my kids when the time comes.. there is a Dutch group in Georgia who celebrates Sinterklaas
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Old Saturday, November 15th, 2008, 07:28 AM
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Default Re: Sinterklaas

He's not coming by the loading docks in Oranjestead this year?
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Old Sunday, November 16th, 2008, 09:52 AM
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Default Re: Sinterklaas

Sinterklaas is coming today to Rodgers beach 11 am, the group that organizes the arrival of Sinterklaas all these years is not organizing this anymore. Another group took over and decided to do this in Rodgers beach.
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Old Tuesday, November 25th, 2008, 06:50 PM
JohnJT JohnJT is offline
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Default Re: Sinterklaas

We read a small book years after starting our visits to Aruba. It is still on our bookshelf. I believe it is called "Santa and Black Pete" (Zwarte Piets as mentioned above). I will amend this report with more information after I check the bookshelf. It describes the Dutch traditions in the old colony of New Amsterdam (Manhattan) in the 1600's. We bought a couple of these books at a discount store and we were so pleased with this old story. It was amazing to learn the traditions of Holland and Aruba are preserved. Hope Sinterklaas had a successful arrival in Aruba!
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