13 things you need to know about Saint Nicolas, who's birthday is celebrated on the 5th of December each year.
1. Saint Nicolas (or Sinterklaas as we call him) is a nice friendly guy, but not stupidly silly as Santa Claus (hohoho ....).
2. He is not as fat either.
3. He has this really cool white horse, called Schimmel (which would translate as 'mould', because that is what we call white horses with little grey spots on them) who can do rooftops.
4. As soon as he arrives in the country, you got to put your shoe at the fireplace/window/balcony and he'll stuff it with lollies. Smart children use a very big shoe, preferably a boot.
5. His Pieten (the black helpers) ARE funny and silly and they do good acrobatics.
6. Sinterklaas lollies are the best: chocolate letters, spicy sweets, chocolate mice, marzipan sausages.
7. You get to make a 'surprise' (pronounce 'surprease') for someone, which gives you the opportunity to set them straight on their errors from the past year. Only in a nice teasing way though, nothing nasty or mean.
8. Sinterklaas has his own news on tv, so you get important updates on his works and whereabouts each day.
9. He also owns a website, where you can get help with the rhymes that go with the surprise.
10. Sinterklaas' birthday is actually on the 6th, so in Belgium that is the day they celebrate. In the Netherlands it is on the evening of the 5th.
11. Some parents tell their children when they are about 7 years old that Sinterklaas doesn't actually exist. Of course they are very wrong!
12. Sinterklaas was a real bishop, some 800 years ago, in Turkey. I'm not sure they still remember him there though.
13. I just love Sint and I think it is a sin that shopkeepers try to copy the US and UK and start putting up Xmas trees before the 5th of December. There should be a law against that!
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