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  Calendar of events

Saint Nicolas Day

December 05, 2018

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Sinterklaas and his Zwarte Pieten appear at multiple children's event around the island during his stay.

The Aruban children all wait anxiously on the arrival of 'Sinterklaas' by boat at the port of Oranjestad. The bishop from Spain is being accompanied by his helpers 'Zwarte Pieten' and they spread around gifts and candies to the children waiting. Days before his arrival the children of Aruba put out their shoes and hopefully, if they have been good during the year, receive their present in that shoe the next morning. During his stay, Sinterklaas and his Zwarte Pieten appear at multiple children's event around the island.

Sinterklaas is a Dutch holiday figure representing Saint Nicholas, a 3rd-century bishop who became the patron saint of children and had a penchant for giving gifts. In mid-November, Arubans welcome Sinterklaas, his white horse, and a handful of helpers-called Zwarte Pieten-as they sail into Aruba's harbor from Spain. (Saint Nicholas was also the patron saint of sailors.) A parade follows, with Sinterklaas and the Zwarte Pieten throwing treats to the children. On the days leading up to the 6th, Sinterklaas-with his long white beard, saintly attire, and golden staff-is difficult to miss as he and his helpers make appearances at events sponsored by schools and businesses all across the Island.

The tradition of the Zwarte Pieten (Black Peters) carries with it varying explanations. One explanation claims that the Zwarte Pieten are modeled after a young slave named Peter who was freed by St. Nicholas. In gratitude, Peter decided to assist his liberator in his gift-giving duties.