On Saturday Saint Nicholas arrived in Antwerp, Belgium on the big steam boat from Spain with his "Black Petes" (his helpers) and his beautiful white horse ! Thousands of children were awaiting his arrival and it was followed by a big parade and then He went to the city hall and spoke to all the children from the balcony of city hall.
Saint Nicholas will visit all the children on December 6 and bring them toys and goodies. Between now and Dec 6 He will be seen in the streets and shopping malls where children can meet him and sit on his lap and have their picture taken. They can give Him their wish list or they can send it in the mail to Spain where He lives.
On the night of December 5 all children will put their shoe by the chimney with a carrot for Saint Nicholas' horse and a beer for Pete. Saint Nicholas will come down the chimney and leaves toys and goodies behind like Speculaas, a kind of spiced cookie simular to gingerbread but with cinnamon and other spices. They are shaped like Saint Nicholas. He will bring mandarines (tangerines) or oranges and marsipan, which is an almond paste shaped into all kinds of fun figurines.
Saint Nicholas carries a big Book in which He has written the names of all children and whether they have been good or bad. But from the balcony Saint Nicholas announced that all children have been good so none of them have to worry this year !
Black Pete is Saint Nicholas' helper and carries the toys and goodies in a big brown bag. Many years ago Pete would put the children who have been bad into his bag and take them with him but thankfully that tradition has been modified as it left many children traumatized
Now Black Pete is the best of helpers and nice to all children !
Saint Nicholas wears a beautiful red robe and a mitre. He was a beloved bishop in Turkey somewhere around the year 325 AD. The poor knew him for His generosity, His love for children and ships and sailors. Somehow He moved from Turkey to Spain and has lived there ever since. And every year He comes back on his big boat and visits the children all over Europe.