Christmas is arriving!
During the late summer I met a charming Dutch Family at the Aphrodite Restaurant, Lapta where they were being entertained by the owner Cemal Boransel with demonstration of traditional dancing and explanations of so much Turkish Cypriot cultural practices.
Since then I have kept in contact with our Dutch friends, Jantina, Eddy, Sander, Thomas and Amber and we have shared links and when I shared the following links to Cyprusscene articles we noticed an incredible reading by Dutch readers which was great and hopefully we will see many more of these very friendly people coming to North Cyprus to enjoy all that is good about our homeland.
I recently had another email from Jatina and she wrote this to me.
How are things there in Cyprus? We are well and everything is OK here in Holland although its getting colder with today’s temperature of only 4 degrees. Brrrrr!
Here in Holland we will start the seasonal celebrations with the arrival of Sinterklaas. He is an old man with a beard who looks a bit like Santa Claus (He has a servant who is black)
He comes on Saturday 1st December with the steam boat and first he puts small gifts in peoples shoes at night and on the 5th December they turn into a lot of gifts. When he has completed his work he goes back to Spain where he lives and then we start here with our Christmas Celebrations by setting up a Christmas tree in our home with many lights and candles.”
I had a holiday in Ostend in Belgium for the Millennium New Year Celebrations and we encountered similar characters who came into the bars giving away small gifts of sweets and chocolate so I decided to learn a little more of this wonderful custom.
According to Wikipedia:
“Sinterklaas or more formally Sint Nicolaas or Sint Nikolaas; Saint Nicolas in French; Sankt Nikolaus in German) is a traditional Winter holiday figure still celebrated today in the Low Countries, including the Netherlands and Belgium, as well as French Flanders (Lille) and Artois (Arras). He is also well known in territories of the former Dutch Empire, including South Africa, Aruba, Suriname, Curaçao, Bonaire, and Indonesia. He is one of the sources of the holiday figure of Santa Claus in North America.
Although he is usually referred to as Sinterklaas, he is also known as De Goedheiligman (The Good Holy Man), Sint Nicolaas (Saint Nicholas) or simply as De Sint (The Saint).
He is celebrated annually on Saint Nicholas’ Eve (5 December) or on the morning of 6 December in the Netherlands, Belgium and Northern France. Originally, the feast celebrates the name day of Saint Nicholas — patron saint of children, sailors, and the city of Amsterdam, among others. Sint Nicholas being a bishop and this geographical spread make clear that the feast in this form has a Roman Catholic background.
Closely related figures are also known in German-speaking Europe and territories historically influenced by German culture, including: Switzerland (Samichlaus), Germany and Austria (Sankt Nikolaus); the region of South Tyrol in Italy; Nord-Pas de Calais, Alsace and Lorraine in France – as well as in Luxembourg (De Kleeschen), parts of Central Europe and the Balkans.”
So here we are on the eve of the arrival of “Sinterklaas” on the 1st December and one can only but imagine just how excited all of those many thousands of children must be in the countries he will be visiting tomorrow.
For your enjoyment I have included a video link showing his arrival in Holland in 2010 and you can view this by clicking here.
If you have a vivid imagination and can travel through time, you can visit the Sinterklaas Celebrations in Rhinebeck by clicking here.
For North Cyprus, Christmas is just around the corner and Christmas trees with decorations and lights will be appearing very soon and I will try to write a follow up article of how we all enjoyed ourselves for our Dutch friends to read and enjoy.
By Chris Elliott