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Saint Nicolas at Astron 2011

Submitter: Sjouke Zwier
Description: On Saturday, November 19th, Sinterklaas visited the children of the ASTRON/JIVE employees. Unfortunately, on his way to the Institute, his horse got stuck in the yucky muck of the ”Dwingelerveld”. Luckily, a bucking truck liberated the Sint and his Piet’s, just in time for them to deliver presents to the anxiously waiting children. The pictures show that the two sister institutes are pretty fertile places.

Some local folklore: In the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg, Germany and even northern France, Saint Nicolas (or "Sinterklaas") hands out presents to the children, and occasional admonishments. He is assisted by some politically incorrect black helpers, commonly known as Zwarte Piet ("Black Pete"). Every year, on the first Saturday after Sint Maarten, they arrive by steam boat from Spain, to stay in the Netherlands until December 6th.

The children are led to believe that, in or near the night of December 5th, the Sint puts presents into their shoes. He is supposed to ride over the roof-tops on his white horse (quite a feat for a man his age), from where he directs his servants to go down the chimneys. From mid-November the children are allowed to make a wish-list. They sing special Sinterklaas songs, and put their shoes near the fireplace (or the radiator!). They often bait the shoes with winter carrots and water for the horse, and make pretty drawings for Sint and Piet.

Obviously, Sinterklaas has the same roots as Santa Claus, and the same business model. However, resident aliens at ASTRON and JIVE should be aware that there are some subtle differences, which highlight the hidden charm of their hosts. These differences will be revealed today.
Copyright: Astron
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