We were walking James on a cold Saturday morning here in the Netherlands and we decided to walk through the town square of Gouda since it is right by our Airbnb and we wanted to see what people were selling at the market (Thursdays are the big cheese market days). We noticed flags in all of the planters welcoming Sinterklaas and stores had sacks in front of their shops with presents spilling out. We also saw lots and lots of Pepernoten (traditional mini spiced Dutch cookies) on the ground and for sale in the bakeries.
Once we arrived in the town square, we heard the bands and saw the crowds: everyone was waiting for the arrival of Sinterklaas! The band members and the children were all dressed as Zwarte Piet. Zwarte Piet (black Peter) helps Sinterklaas by listening down the chimneys to check on children’s behavior and he delivers gifts. That is why he is black – he gets covered in soot from the chimneys! The Piets are the fun-loving and mischievous side kick of Sinterklaas and they are often more popular because they deliver the Pepernoten cookies to the children! Sinterklaas is more stately and he delivers fruit and asks the children questions.
Sinkterklaas arrived on his big white horse and everyone cheered and then followed him in the parade! We really lucked out by walking through town and happening to find this fun event in Gouda!