Sinter Klaas

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Possibly the first representation of Santa Claus was Sinter Klaas, the Dutch old man who brings presents, candy, and sweets to kids in a December 5th parade.

Sinter Klaas and Black Peter, a Moor, arrive by steamboat. Sinter Klaas wears a bishop's robe, gloves and red neckwear and rides a white horse. Black Peter wears stockings, special pants, and a special jacket. He also carries a big red book, which contains records of how good or how bad children have been.

That's one version of the story. Here's another:

Dutch children would leave their shoes in the chimney so Sinter Klaas--riding from house to house on his white horse--can drop presents down the chimney and into the shoes. Black Peter, on the other hand, would go right down the chimneys and leave the presents that way.

Either way, we can trace the name and the idea of Santa Claus back to Holland in the 1600s. Sinter Klaas became Sint Klaes, then Santa Claus.

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Social Studies for Kids
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David White