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Sinterklaas in Amsterdam

Sinterklaas is a traditional Dutch holiday figure who is celebrated in the Netherlands and other Dutch-speaking regions. The main festivities take place on December 5th, known as Sinterklaasavond or St. Nicholas' Eve. However, preparations and celebrations often begin in November.

In Amsterdam, as in many other Dutch cities, you can expect various events and activities related to Sinterklaas. Here are some common elements of Sinterklaas celebrations in Amsterdam:

  1. Arrival of Sinterklaas: The arrival of Sinterklaas is a significant event. In mid-November, Sinterklaas traditionally arrives in the Netherlands by boat. In Amsterdam, this event can be quite elaborate, with a procession through the city involving Sinterklaas, his helpers (Zwarte Pieten), and various festivities.

  1. Parades: Sinterklaas parades are common in many Dutch cities, including Amsterdam. These parades feature Sinterklaas, Zwarte Pieten, and sometimes other characters. The parades are often accompanied by music, dancing, and the distribution of sweets and treats to children.

  1. Sinterklaas Houses and Displays: In the weeks leading up to December 5th, you may find temporary "Sinterklaas Houses" or displays in public spaces, where children can visit Sinterklaas and his helpers, and sometimes even leave their wish lists.

  1. Gift Giving: Sinterklaas is a gift-giving celebration, similar to Christmas. Children receive presents, and it's common for friends and family to exchange small gifts. The presents are typically accompanied by humorous poems, adding a personal touch to the gift-giving tradition.

  1. Traditional Sweets: During the Sinterklaas season, traditional Dutch sweets are widely enjoyed. Pepernoten (spiced cookies), chocolate letters, and marzipan are among the popular treats.

It's important to note that the celebration of Sinterklaas has been the subject of some controversy in recent years due to discussions about the character of Zwarte Piet and concerns about racial stereotypes. Efforts have been made to adapt the tradition to be more inclusive and respectful.

If you're in Amsterdam during the Sinterklaas season, you can check local event listings, visit public spaces, and participate in the various activities to experience the festive atmosphere.

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