An enthusiastic John de Wit, from Newcastle (NSW) wrote:
" I’m still recovering and in a state of absolute shock having experienced the greatest St. Nicholas party for the children last Saturday at Marmong Park. I would like to thank everyone on behalf of our wonderful committee for all your help, support, assistance in every way shape or form. More than 122 children attended this very hot and humid day. A difficult head count revealed over 300 people in the park. An absolute great success and thanks to all those who participated to make the day the success it was. "
Well, the good saint (Die goede sint_) seemed to be everywhere, this year (around 5/6 December, 2008) spreading good-will and, as always, keeping the Dutch-born and their descendants in touch with their Dutch, heritage.
It’s such a convenient way to link the children, the grandchildren and friends and family to the Dutch heritage.
Having been away from the Netherlands, for 52 years, I get the impression that, there have been some rumblings, back there, regarding the political correctness of a saint being assisted by black Pieten/Piets (=Peters or Petes) but luckily, down here that has not seem to have been an issue.
After celebrating Sinterklaas with my now grown-up children, together with my father (91), in the Abel Tasman Retireent Village, I reached the Dutch Shop, in Smithfield, just too late to witness Saint Nicholas chatting with the Dutch-born youngsters. (See pictures, below.)
But the ambiance, the good feelings, the sfeer were still high and I suspect of that the children who were still there, in the restaurant, many might not, too long ago have known the Sinterklaas tradition, in the Netherlands.
I was there when Sinterklaas attended the Abel Tasman Retirement Village, in Chester Hill (again) and watched him speak to a number of young invited guests, witnessed by the village’s residents.
I was there, two days later, when residents, from the village travelled to the Dutch-Australian Rembrandt Club, in St Marys, here in Sydney, on a day when the children were at school, and when these A.T.V. residents joined a hall filled to capacity with the members of the club and enjoyed a fine lunch and great entertainment, as well as some lucky ladies getting to sit on the saint’s lap and others getting a big hug from one of the good fun entertainers.
Thank goodness for Sinterklaas and all those people who get involved to keep this tradition alive………and………..Let’s just state it: Now if there had not been a Sinterklaas, there would not have been a Santa Claus.
My son and daughter have always been grateful to have a Dutch-born father.
It meant that they got two lots of presents. (Slightly smaller ones from Sinterklaas and the bigger ones from Santa Claus. Sinterklaas found them at their Oma and Opa’s house, where they left clogs for him under the t.v.. Santa Claus found them at home, where they left the treats for Santa, under the tree.).
And much more, here
The one I missed by that much ! (Couldn’t be everywhere.)
This was Sinterklaas, in the Dutch Shop’s Restaurant, in Smithfield. (Pictures taken by Mrs Anita van Altena and sent to me by Mr Peter Hamer, who was there, at the time!).
In my view, Dutch (-born) people like disagree but the Sinterklaas tradition is one that seems to be the excuse to enjoy being Dutch.