Sinterklaas rides into Schuylerville each year on his white horse to bring gifts to the town's children in celebration of St. Nicholaas Day. (submitted photo)
Schuylerville Much like the arrival of Santa Claus at the end of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in the United States, each year in the Netherlands, a parade celebrates the start of the holiday season and the arrival of Sinterklaas
Locally, one town has kept the traditions of its Dutch heritage alive by celebrating St. Nicolaas Day and the spirit of Sinterklaas with an annual festival.
“St. Nicolaas Eve really is a major event in the Netherlands,” said David Roberts, president of the Schuylerville Chamber of Commerce. “They don’t celebrate Christmas like we do here. We always used to do a Dutch Christmas, but about a decade ago we decided to mimic how they celebrate the season.”
The feast of St. Nicolaas has been celebrated for generations throughout Europe.
The real man was a bishop, known to be a generous person and a protector of those in need, in part because of his Christian faith. He especially loved children. Stories tell of him providing dowries to the daughters of poor men, and tossing gold into open windows as he passed. Soon, children were leaving their stockings and shoes out in hopes of receiving gifts from St. Nicolaas, or Sinterklaas.
His life was later celebrated as a feast day on the day of his death, Dec. 6.
Today, the beginning of the holiday season is marked by the arrival of Sinterklaas parading through town and is broadcast on national television. His helpers, called Pieten, pass out candy and small toys to children in the crowd, while stockings and shoes are still left out on Dec. 5 in order to receive gifts.
The residents of Schuylerville follow the traditions closely as possible.
“We have tried to create a few events that are unique to the town,” said Roberts. “Everyone has a Santa Claus, but not everyone one has St. Nick riding through on a white horse. We want to keep with the theme like they would in Holland.”