The Dutch have their own fat, jolly man, and his name is Sinterklaas. Short for Sint Nicolaas, Dutch for Saint Nicholas, he also happens to be the patron saint of Amsterdam. If Santa Claus and the Pope went on a date and got pregnant, he’d look like Sinterklaas.
The story goes that each November he arrives by steamship from Spain (not the North Pole!?) along with his posse of Zwarte Pieten or Black Petes. This year the ship was to dock at the Maritime Museum, supposedly between 10:00 and 10:30, so off I went to meet up with him. Strangely, when I got to there, there were only a handful of people waiting. Turns out he wasn’t scheduled to be there until 11:30. UGH! I ended up cooling my heels in the restaurant.
As time passed, the dock slowly filled with people and boats. Since I had my museum card, I got in without paying and had a slightly better vantage point — plus it was far more comfortable to being outside.
Soon enough a drawbridge opened and to cheers and loud music out came the steamship carrying the guest of honor…
And here’s the man of the hour! Interesting how a make-believe character has this huge an effect on so many people – the children went crazy when they saw him. He didn’t go Ho! Ho! Ho! which would’ve been cute. He was met by no less than the Mayor of Amsterdam and given the key to the city. After all the formalities he disappeared inside the museum and would soon head out to meet an even bigger crowd in the city center.