Sinterklaas‘ day is celebrated every 5 December in The Netherlands and on 6 December in Belgium and former Dutch colonies.
This legendary character appears in the Dutch history from the year 343 and the myth is based on the figure of St. Nicholas of Bari (who was Bishop of Myra, in modern day Turkey, in the fourth century).
Zwarte Piet is the servant of Sinterklaas and is a controversial character due to his colour, alleging racial prejudices. Sometimes it is considered that Zwarte Piet is his African servant or slave and some other times it is considered that he is an Italian chimney sweep, carrying a steak used by these professionals and his colour is due to the soot of the chimneys.
“Sinterklaas comes from Spain”. This tradition is due to the fact that the remains of St Nicholas were moved to Bari, region which was part of Spain between XV and XVIII centuries.
“Sinterklaas and Santa Claus”. It is believed that Santa Claus comes from Sinterklaas, when New Yorkers in the XVIII century (former Dutch colony city, New Amsterdam) adapted the name to English but historians have not agreed about this. In any case, it is obvious that these two characters have several things in common and also differences…they could be close relatives ;).
I like both of them and, just in case, I will leave my shoes on 5 December and my socks on 24 December and maybe I will receive two Christmas presents 😉 … or three, taking also the Spanish tradition of The Magi ;).
MERRY CHRISTMAS TO EVERYONE! 😀
*Information and pictures are from Wikipedia