News of: Wednesday, November 15 2006,
The yearly arrival in Amsterdam of the childrens' saint Sinterklaas (Saint Nicholas) is due on Sunday November 19.
Around 12 noon he will arrive, by boat, at the Scheepvaartmuseum, where he will be officially welcomed by mayor Job Cohen. Of course, there will also be Zwarte Pieten (Black Petes) and music bands. And.... they will have 5,000 kilogram of 'pepernoten' to give to the children (pepernoten are typical Sinterklaas sweets, that the Zwarte Pieten throw to the children).
From the Scheepvaartmuseum Sinterklaas will go (on his white horse Amerigo), to Leidseplein square (route: Prins Hendrikkade, Central Station, Damrak, Dam square (1pm), Rokin, Muntplein, Vijzelstraat and Weteringcircuit to Leidseplein (2.30 pm). On Leidseplein will be the 'balcony scene', at the Stadsschouwburg theatre, where he will be cheered by the audience.
While other countries celebrate Saint Nicholas during Christmas, in the Netherlands and Belgium he is commemorated on 5 December (Netherlands), or 6 December (Belgium). See this English Wikipedia article for more information on this ancient Dutch cultural phenomenon, that can be traced back to the Middle Ages.
Santa Claus (popular in North America) is derived from Sinterklaas. Santa Claus has later invaded Europe, and is now also competing with the Dutch Sinterklaas. Nowadays, right after December 5, the shops will quickly change to Christmas decorations, and some skip the Sinterklaas period altogether.