Here in Holland, it’s impossible to escape Sinterklaas at this time of year.
I don’t celebrate it myself, as I’m a Christmas person, but I do like to see other people celebrate the fifth of December.
It’s really amazing to see how most people band together for a few weeks every year, to create this communally sustained fantasy, and only for the enjoyment of children. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve seen Sinterklaas or his Pieten running around, being nice to little children.
While I was on the train today, I was surrounded by excited little kids dressed up like Sinterklaas’ helpers. They were jumping around and singing Sinterklaas songs, but they were so genuinely happy that they weren’t even annoying. At a certain point, we passed a car that had a Piet and a giant present on top, and they were so adorable when they completely lost their shit.
England doesn’t have the same devotion to sustaining the lie as Holland does. It’s just as well, for me. I was very attached to the idea of Santa when I was little, and one of my clearest memories of when I was little was when I realised Santa didn’t exist.
My mum tried to get me to go visit ‘Santa’ at a neigbour’s house. I somehow realised that it was only my neighbour dressed up as Santa, and I pitched a fit that I find embarrassing to think about, even now.
Still, not every kid is as gullible or stupid as I was at that age, and the joy they get out of the giant story brought to life every year far outweighs the mixture of feelings they experience when they find out that it wasn’t actually real.