Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Zie ginds komt de stoomboot...

Yonder See the Steamboat Coming (free translation :-). Every year millions of Dutch children are singing this traditional Dutch Saint Nicholas song, their little hearts beating with anticipation....

In Holland we believe in the holy Saint Nicholas, patron of the children. He arrives from Spain in our small county by steamboat. Don't ask me why. He celebrates his birthday on December 5th, and that is when the children get gifts and sweets... if they have been good all year, because Sint knows and sees everything.

A few days before the big day of December 5th, children put their shoe in front of the chimney to get some sweets.  Saint Nicholas is always accompanied by Zwarte Pieten (Black Peters) who enter the homes through the chimney, hence their blackness.

This week our own Saint Nicholas arrived in Madagascar....not by steam boat but in a Zebu cart, but we kept singing Steamboat anyway... ha ha...


As I child I fiercely believed in all this. All children do, until the age of 6 or 7. Soleine is now 8, and I had to tell her that Sinterklaas in Madagascar is not the real one, because Antoine was going to be Zwarte Piet. But most children want to believe so hard, that they refuse to give up. Soleine still believes in the real Saint and she put her shoe several times.

Not easy to be Zwarte Piet in the heat

Vol verwachting klopt ons hart
Soleine (8) is no longer afraid of Saint Nicholas


  1. I read this article about "Zwarte Piet" last year http://www.slate.com/articles/life/holidays/2011/12/zwarte_piet_holland_s_favorite_racist_christmas_tradition_.html

    It's funny sometimes how the Malagasy copycat foreign culture like Santa Claus. As you know, it's freaking hot and humid in Madagascar during the month of December, yet the Malagasy Santa claus still wear red winter clothes as if they were in winter Europe; should they be wearing sleeveless white shirts and shorts.

    For the record, I'm not against of making kids happy and having fun!

    A Malagasy Reader.

  2. Het Sinterklaasfeest dat op 5 dezember gehouden wordt is een rasistisch gedoe.
    Er zijn weinig mensen die dit feest herdenken in mijn land Suriname.

  3. I love reading your blog as I am applying to teach at the American School. Does your daughter enjoy it? Do you think it's a good school?