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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in the Netherlands Series at DutchPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Dutch holidays and observances. I’m Eric, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 3 - St. Nicholas Day. In Dutch, St. Nicholas is called [Sinterklaas]
Saint Nicholas or [Sinterklaas], comes to Holland every year to celebrate his birthday with the Dutch people on December 5. In this lesson we’ll learn about how the Dutch celebrate St. Nicholas Day!
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question?
Where did the good Saint Nicholas originally come from, according to history books?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
Saint Nicholas and his helpers, known as “Black Peters,” or [zwarte Piet], are said to arrive in Holland around mid-November. Starting around this time, children begin placing their shoes next to the hearth in their homes before going to bed, hoping that Saint Nicholas’ helpers will leave them a small gift, for example, a chocolate letter. The children sing special songs for Saint Nicholas and his ‘Peters’ when they put their shoes out. They also watch the Sinterklaas Daily News on national television, to stay informed about their activities.
December 5 is Saint Nicholas’ birthday and is the night that he brings a burlap sack filled with presents to all the children in Holland. This evening in Dutch is called [pakjesavond], literally meaning “presents evening”. Adults also celebrate by exchanging gifts on behalf of the Saint.
Saint Nicholas’ helpers, the Black Peters, or [zwarte Piet], are widely loved by children because they are so mischievous. They dance comically and throw candies, or [snoep], around for children to pick up. They climb on rooftops and come down the chimney, or [schoorsteen], at night to put a little gift in the children’s shoes. Of course, this is only for children who have been good all year. Children who’ve been bad are put in the sack and taken back to Spain.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
Do you know where the Saint originally came from?
About 1,700 years ago, St. Nicholas was born in the town of Patara, in Turkey, not Spain. The location of the Saint’s headquarters is still top secret. Children who have been bad during the year are said to be put in Saint Nicholas’ sack and taken home, but the question is whether they will end up in Spain or in Turkey!
How did you like this lesson? Did you learn something interesting?
Will you leave your shoe out this year so you can get gifts from St. Nicholas?
Leave us your comments on DutchPod101.com, and we'll see you in the next lesson.