Posted on November 20, 2011 by vicki
Tags: belgium


He may look like Santa but he is not. He is Sinterklaas. And he is attended by his helper Zwarte Piet (Black Peter). Those people in the photo are not of African origin, they have actually painted their faces black.

Sinterklaas came to Leuven last week by boat. We missed his big arrival, but I happened upon this parade down the main street in town while I was out yesterday. He was preceded by a marching band, and all the Zwarte Piets were dancing around.

The kids are all getting excited for the 6th of December, when Sinterklaas‘helpers come down the chimney and leave presents for them (explains the black faces). Apparently Sinterklaas originated from Turkey, but currently comes to Belgium and The Netherlands out of Spain. If the kids are naughty, then instead of getting presents they are thrown into Sinterklaas’ sack and get carted away to Spain. We’ve been told by Belgians that this is a very real fear for small children, but personally I’d quite enjoy the relative warmth of Spain right now!

Also, they still get Christmas and Santa 19 days later.