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Sinterklaas in the Netherlands - Statistics & Facts

Sinterklaasfeest, or as one might say in English, Saint Nicholas Day, is a holiday celebrated mainly in the Netherlands on the fifth of December, and in Belgium on the sixth. According to legend, Sinterklaas, his helpers, and his horse go all the way from Spain to the Netherlands by boat in the middle of November each year. Their arrival, in conjunction with the subsequent parade, marks the beginning of the festive season. Before the fifth of December, children will typically leave their shoes close to the fireplace or at the backdoor, sometimes placing a carrot in them for Sinterklaas’ horse (Amerigo or Ozosnel) to enjoy. On the day of the holiday itself, candy and gifts will have been left in and around the kids’ shoes and Sinterklaas will once again return to his home in the South.

Sinterklaas vs. Christmas

Although Sinterklaas is a very important holiday tradition in the Netherlands, a considerable share of people in the country do not actually celebrate the occasion. In fact, approximately 85 percent of surveyed Dutch individuals said they would celebrate Christmas in 2021, while only just over half of respondents planned to celebrate Sinterklaasfeest. Nevertheless, people in the Netherlands were more likely to receive gifts from Sinterklaas than from Santa Claus that year. Around 45 percent of people who did intend to celebrate Sinterklaas, planned to do so with members of the family.

Controversy surrounding Zwarte Piet

In recent years, Zwarte Piet (Black Pete) has sparked many discussions. Zwarte Piet is Saint Nicholas’ companion, and he helps deliver presents and candy to children’s homes across the country. However, the traditional look of the character (e.g., dark make-up and red lipstick) has become increasingly controversial over the years, with many considering it racially insensitive. Although many people in the Netherlands were against making changes at first, more and more people have opened up to the idea of adapting the character’s appearance, for example, from Zwarte Piet to Roetveegpiet (Sooty Pete).

Interesting statistics

In the following 4 chapters, you will quickly find the 21 most important statistics relating to "Sinterklaas in the Netherlands".

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