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Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Sinta Claus Capuncha

Sinta Claus day is the 5th of December in Holland and its then not the 25th that good Dutch boys and girls get their presents. However there is something of a run up to Sinta Claus Day as the good saint arrives in the country well in advance - this year he arrived on the 15th November.

He arrives on a steam ship and the event is covered on TV. He rides a horse and is accompanied by dozens of Svartie Piets a kind of Dutch Elf (only they're from Spain) who dance about and distribute candy to all the little boys and girls. Maria and I weren't in to see the steamboat arrive, but that was OK because Sinta Claus is magic. He can be in many places at once, which meant that even as he was disembarking from a steamship he was part of a parade around our local supermarket.

The parade was definately cool, and felt a bit like small town America meets German village. There was a marching band playing oompah versions of carols, there were assorted groups of schoolchildren carrying banners and there were dozens of Piets. The Piets incidently appear to be Moorish in nature, all of them being black (or at least white people blacked up). No-one in Holland seems the least bit bothered by what in other countries would be a very unPC event indeed.

Once the Piets had been round Sinta Claus himself appeared riding in a carriage drawn by two horses. Sinta Claus is a very stern and slightly forbidding character - the harsh judge of good or bad. No "Ho Ho Ho" here, just a lot of handshaking and occasional waving with a white glove. Meanwhile all the children clamoured to say hello to him and shake his hand.

Then he was gone and we went home. However Sinta Claus is generous during his time in Holland. From now until Sinta Claus day children can get themselves candy by doing the following...

Sing a song for Sinta Claus
Leave your shoe out when you go to sleep with either a carrot or some straw for his horse
Be good

When you wake the carrot will have been replaced with candy. I know this is true because I tried it and it worked. Here's the song I sang.

"Sinta Claus Capuncha" / Santa Claus Capuncha
Hoy vot in mein Schoontche / Put something in my shoe
Hoy vot in mein Laasha / Put something in my boot
Dank u Sinta Claus" / Thank you Santa Claus

(spelling and grammar of the above needs tidying up...)

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