It’s Christmas! Time for presents, hot chocolate and quality time with the family. The big man who holds this holiday together is of course, Santa Claus. Here in Holland we see both the Saint Nick and Sinterklaas during the month of December, as a lot of international students must have noticed. But the resemblance in the names let me to wonder, are they simply the same man?
On Wikipedia I read that Santa Claus is a degeneration, a transformed word, of Sinterklaas. Dutch colonists brought the tradition of Sinterklaas to America in the 17th century. This doesn’t mean it’s the same guy because there could’ve been a lot of factors that influenced the Christmas tradition in the United States. We read about a Sinterklaas song in A History of New York, written in 1812 by Washington Irving. At the same time there was a Father Christmas in Britain, which is actually older than our Sinterklaas. It is suspected that Santa Claus could be a melted form of Sinterklaas, Father Christmas and a whole bunch of other old guys from Germanic and Scandinavian tales.
The fact that people think of a fat guy with a white beard if they think of Santa Claus has to do with Coca-Cola. Every year we see the advertisements with the big, lit truck and a ‘Saint Nicholas’ who drinks Coca-Cola. This goes way back to the 1930s and ever since then, the world accepted this Coca-Cola Santa. Sinterklaas doesn’t have his reindeers or elves, but the resemblance in appearance is striking. Let’s not dig in to the helpers of Sinterklaas because that is a whole other and (too) controversial story.
But we don’t have that luxury of some old man buying us all our gifts! Except for the ones with a sugar daddy perhaps. We’re students and hopefully our familiy wil understand that we don’t have the money for big gifts à la Bijenkorf. In any case, I hope your exams went well and I wish you a Merry Christmas!