Today was the first time I have experienced a Sinterklaas intocht (arrival) in The Netherlands. It was fantastic! The previous few years as we’ve been living in Australia, I’ve been fortunate to celebrate with the Duyfkenschool Brisbane at Redcliffe in the brilliant sunshine.
This year though, we were in 4 degrees, almost shivering in the cold by the harbour even in thick jackets, but that was all forgotten once we heard the blast of the boat’s horn! I hope you can share at least a little of the atmosphere through this video:
We live in Den Haag but have Dutch Australian friends in Maassluis and were so glad they asked us to join them. Though the intocht van Sinterklaas (arrival) is celebrated all over The Netherlands both this weekend and next, as you can see from the Sinterklaas Maassluis website, they take it very seriously there and it was a great place to be (and I’ve just disovered you can watch today’s events there on the website too!).
First our children practiced their singing (which you can see on the video above) and as our friends live near the harbour, it was then an easy walk down to the water’s edge. We stood amongst a growing crowd, spattered with cute little Zwarte Piets and Sinterklaasjes.
Everyone waited with anticipation for the Stoomboot to arrive from Spanje (for any readers who happen to be new to all of this, you can read about Sinterklaas on Wikipedia).
Soon, out of the mist, a bellowing horn sounded and we could see the boat! Sinterklaas was hard to spot but we certainly could see the Zwarte Pieten everywhere – including on the mast.
It all happened rather quickly – the boat sailed into the harbour, followed by two more cheerfully decorated boats full of Pieten and Pakjes. What I enjoyed most was the intermittent horns, it really added to the atmosphere. The cold was forgotten as children waved and sang enthusiastically (Sophia has been practicing her “Sinterklaas wave” for days!).
It was a little hard to see Sinterklaas but in the end the boat had to wait a while for the bridge to open so I managed to get up closer for a photo:
With our children so young and a large crowd, we decided not to go into the town centre but instead enjoyed morning tea with our friends, then came home to watch the Intocht van Sinterklaas show – which has been televised annually since 1952 and each year focusses on a different location – this year was Roermond in Limburg.
If you’d like to see more of my photos from today, you can head over to the Dutch Australian Facebook page or my Google + Sinterklaas album.
Love to hear about your experiences of Sinterklaas in a comment below! Renee
5 thoughts on “2012 Sinterklaas in Maasluis”
You know what struck me most of this entire video? It is your daughter singing her Sinterklaas liedje and her Dutch is almost perfect. This brought me back to when we first arrived in Australia. My brother who was 12 at the time picked up the language just like that and had no Dutch accent whatsoever. Sinterklaas is one of the things I really miss from the Netherlands. We used to celebrate this with surprises and presents.
Thanks for your comment Anneloes – yes she does really well with the song doesn’t she! I’m so proud of her, only a few months here and she’s doing so well – though she does start with logopedie this week at school to help her out as many of the kids don’t understand her!
Brrr! It looks so cold!
Sounds like you had a wonderful time. Sinterklaas came into Almere Haven as well, but we made a run for it I’m ashamed to say. We stayed to see the “Real” Sint arrive in Almere a few years ago and it was way too busy for me, but an amazing atmosphere.
Great photos, especially the close up of Sinterklaas!
Thanks Nerissa, was cold but forgot about it for a while in all the excitement! Glad you liked the close up – I had to literally crawl in amongst the crowd to get that shot!