Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Amsterdam's Pieten: Where?Wednesday

Continuing on the Sinterklass theme, this time from Amsterdam where he arrived a day later than here in Wassenaar.

Sinterklass' helpers are the Zwarte Pieten (literally translated, Black Petes). The Wiki entry has an interesting history/theory on why the Petes are blackfaced, but the story I've heard since we've been here is that it's because of the soot in the chimneys.

Irregardless, the Petes are an integral part of the celebration: during Sint's arrival, they pass out licorice or pepernoten (spice cookies) to the children, and generally act boisterous and have a good time. Leading up to the eve of St. Nicholas, they help Sinterklaas leave sweets in the shoes of the children during the night.

I feel it necessary to say that, as someone who didn't grow up with this tradition, it can take a bit of getting used to. But I must report that the kids along the route really enjoyed the antics of the Pieten.


Kate said...

This looks like a very energetic festival!

Anonymous said...

Entertaining to say the least.

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

Very interesting. Hmmmm.

Fun photos. :-D

Great costumes, cool capture. Interesting to learn of unknown customs--unknown to me.

• Eliane • said...

Aaaah the Zwarte Piet! We used to have a card play and the joker card had Zwarte Piet on it. When you pulled it, you had something black written on your forehead, which would make you cry for the rest of the evening, of course. It is amusing that I know him as "Père Fouettard" but in that game he was Zwarte Piet. Aah, the joys of being from Brussels! ;)

Curly said...

Great post! Colourful pictures and an excellent tradition, thanks for sharing with us.

bluechic said...

I loved the photos, really fun to see and rapelling down that old building, have they been doing that for hundreds of years too??! :)

R&R in The Netherlands said...

Kate, Abe, Mary & Curly ... thanks for the comments. It was fun to see.

Elaine ... thanks for sharing--never heard of that game. Interesting how the french & dutch names are intertwined!

Bluechic...I think the rapelling is a more recent development ;)

Neva said...

It is good to see all the colorful outfits...Rapelling? I am sure it is newer but it looks interesting.