Santa Claus is Dutch. Well the story of Santa Claus is anyway. His original name is Sinterklaas and he wears bishop’s robes and a pointy red hat. He lives in a castle in Spain with Black Pete and every Saint Nicholas’s Eve he catches a boat to Holland. When he arrives, him and a whole tonne of Black Pete’s have a big party before he goes off on his white horse and leaves a sack of presents outside everyone’s house, or sometimes Black Pete will climb down the chimney and put some oranges next to the shoes that the children laid by the fireplace the previous night. If the children have been bad he will leave a bunch of willow branches so the parents can give them a good thrashing. In school, after PE class they sometimes have Black Pete class where all the kids learn how to a good Black Pete. No-one is quite sure why Black Pete is black. It is either because he is an orphan Moor child that Sinterklaas helped and then adopted in Spain, or because he is a chimneysweep.
I think when the Dutch settled in America, they decided that loads of white people smearing black all over their faces and having a celebration might raise a few eyebrows, and so replaced them with Elves. And with their canal network far inferior to that of Holland, the only logical step was to give him a sleigh and bunch of reindeers. I don’t know why the date was changed from 6th December to 25th December. I guess it made things easier for it to be tied in with that Christ chap. Too many holidays in one month could be bad for business after all.
Who knew meeting a Dutch couple could be so enlightening. I feel my mind has expanded!
Oh, and one more thing, the most popular song at this time of year is ‘Here comes the steamboat from Spain.’ I’ve heard it, it’s a classic!