Each December in the ABC Islands - Aruba, kado pernikahan and Curacao - locals and tourists celebrate the original Dutch holiday known as Saint Nicholas Day.
As the character referred to as Sinterklaas appears every year to celebrate the feast day of Saint Nicholas, the fictional character of Dutch custom made certainly bears a resemblance to the venerated saint. Saint Nicholas was in fact the bishop of Myra, a town in what is now Turkey, in the 4th century. In the Catholic Church, Nicholas came to be the patron saint of kids because of numerous stories claiming that the bishop got saved many kids from lives of , some from loss of life. Today, Sinterklaas appears in European countries and the Caribbean wearing the traditional reddish colored cloak and mitre (pointed hat) of Catholic bishops. He posesses gold staff referred to as a crosier and keeps a big book with the names of each child under his arm, complete with designations on who has been naughty or fine (zoet or stout in Dutch tradition). As the American version of Santa Claus is based in large part with this Dutch tradition, Sinterklaas can be known for his great white beard.
Much as Santa Claus relies on the help of his elves to deliver gifts to all the world's kids, Sinterklaas employs numerous helpers known as Zwarte Pieten. Known because of their black faces and colorful 16th century clothing, the Zwarte Pieten actually found their beginnings in a DARK AGES tale about the devil. The initial legend stated that on the eve of Saint Nicholas' feast day time the devil was enslaved, evil was overcome and Zwarte Piet (Black Peter) came to serve Saint Nicholas. In latest centuries, the legend found state that the Zwarte Pieten's faces are dark with soot from sliding down chimneys to provide gifts. Within the last couple of years, efforts have been designed to incorporate helpers with different coloured faces in to the legend, explained by Sinterklaas passing through a rainbow in his boat. In Curacao, maintain your attention out for these playful helpers through the holiday and you may be rewarded with a particular treat.
Dutch tradition constantly held that Sinterklaas sailed every year from Spain and was greeted with great fanfare upon his arrival. In Curacao, this custom remains intact and represents among the island's most exciting events for locals and tourists alike. A few weeks prior to the feast day, Sinterklaas can make his planned arrival to the island. Immediately afterwards, Sinterklaas and his helpers lead a parade through the streets, handing out treats on the way. In the weeks before Saint Nicholas Day, Sinterklaas is seen throughout Curacao in shopping malls and resorts, interacting with excited children and curious adults. As a result of the vacation, many resorts and holiday destinations feature special events through the season and tourists are constantly encouraged to participate.
If you visit Curacao together with your family during this holiday season, you can also participate in the gift providing traditions of Saint Nicholas Time. While Sinterklaas is definitely in Curacao, it is customary for kids to leave their shoes close to the chimney or front door every night. Current holiday tradition still keeps that Sinterklaas and his helpers make a air travel each night and drop candy and other small gifts down each chimney in to the shoes.