A friend of all children


December is right around the corner. It’s the month for family, tradition, and festivities. But most of us get excited because of one man. You might know him as Father Christmas, Santa, Saint Nicholas, Kris Kringle, or Sinterklaas. He brings candy and presents to nice children everywhere. It’s a long-celebrated tradition. One that we should cherish for a long time to come.

The origin of this legendary figure goes back to Western culture. With roots in the Germanic myth of the Wild Hunt. It was led by the Norse god Odin, a man with a long white beard. Through the ages, the story was mixed with other rituals. Taken from religious or local traditions. Today it’s a play we all participate in. And what makes this holiday so beautiful, is that it’s one of the last traditions that connects young and old, rich and poor.

Our local Sinterklaas has a sidekick. Several actually. They are painted black and help our friend with his daily tasks. The fact that these helpers are black also has a historic reason. Odin was accompanied by dark fighters from the underworld. But today we tell children they are covered in chimney soot. The black substance formed by incomplete combustion of wood. And it sticks on them when they quietly enter our homes.

The feast of Sinterklaas remains an important tradition. We should not reduce it to stereotypes. There is strong prehistory, which historically speaking has to do with the cyclic succession of darkness and light, of scarcity and abundance, of death and life.

And as traditions are fundamental to our cultural inheritance, the man with the long white beard is too. Don’t turn it into something that it’s not.

#christmas #folklore #history #santa #sinterklaas #tradition