Saint Nicholas lived from the year 270 to 343 and had a reputation for secret gift-giving – a nice piece of history, but what do we care? Well, nowadays Saint Nicholas’ Day is a big event in Holland and a few other countries in Europe like Belgium and Austria. We call it ‘Sinterklaas’, but you might be more familiar with Santa Claus, Father Christmas who derived from our Sinterklaas. The festivity is usually celebrated by families with children, but the Groninger students too like to honor the birthday of Saint Nicholas. GroningenLife! did a bit of research on how students celebrate the festival, by tagging along with a soccer team from students football club The Knickerbockers.
One by one, the guys arrive in one of the guys’ apartment. Accompanied by a ritual of firm high five’s and lots of yelling It’s on: everybody is ready to get the party started. Every member of the team had to write a poem for someone else in the group. It’s a typical Dutch use to draw lots in order to decide who is going to write for whom. Until so far we are dealing with a traditional celebration of Saint Nicholas’ Day.
The whole thing changes when Sinterklaas himself arrives. The man is welcomed with a lot of cheers, which is not surprising: he is a saint! Then the first team member starts to read out his poem. Apparently this fellow is the worst soccer player ever, cannot be proud of his mom and also doesn’t have much success when it comes to flirting. Sinterklaas laughs loudly and praises the writer of the poem while he opens another beer: “cheers my friends!”
One by one, all the poems are proudly recited by the guys. One even more humiliating than the other, but the soccer players don’t seem to care that much about it. They laugh with each other and more importantly: everyone gets his share and has to hear his shortcomings. Sinterklaas now thinks that it is time to continue the party in town, stating: “I have become a little thirsty from all the laughing”.
Of course, everybody celebrates Sain Nicholas’ Day in its own way and every association has its own traditions. But it was quite an evening the way these guys celebrated the festivity. Meanwhile the men are strolling towards the city, while they cannot stop talking about the wonderful lines they wrote about each other. Meanwhile, Sinterklaas has already left Groningen. See you next year old saint!
By Benjamin de Bruijn