Rescuing St. Nicholas!

In the Netherlands

Santa Claus, beat it on your sleigh.
Back to your house, in the U.S. of A.

So sang a Dutch country band, the Amazing Sugar Waffles, in Assen, 1994. The Assen Sinterklaas Committee was concerned because Christmas was coming earlier and earlier each year and it looked like their Dutch Sinterklaas tradition was being crowded out. Signs with the universal “forbidden” symbol over Christmas trees and reindeer were put on all the streets coming into Assen. They said, “No Christmas until 6 December” (Dutch Sinterklaas festivities are on 5 December, the eve of St. Nicholas Day).

Christmas tree with red forbidden symbol
Assen, 1994: “Until 6 December”
Photo: Lodewijk Osse
Christmas market billboard
“This is Assen!”
Christmas market billboard
“This is also Assen!”
Banner placed over Christmas Market billboard in 2012
Photo: Frank Photopersbureau Andringa, Drenthe Journal

In 2012 large banners with the “Tot 6 December” symbol were placed over billboards advertising Assen’s Christmas market, with the message, “Assen is a Sinterklaas town and Santa will have to wait.” The committee works to keep all Christmas-related activity out of sight until Sinterklaas is finished.

Silver and red Sinterklaaspiek figure
Sinterklaas urging Santa to wait
Photo: Sinterklaaspiek, 2008
Sinterklaas with Sinterklaaspiek figure
Sinterklaaspiek
Photo: Sinterklaaspiek, 2008
Sinterklaaspiek bookmark
Sinterklaaspiek
Photo: Sinterklaaspiek, 2008

In 2008 Amsterdam advertising agency Being There distributed 1000 Sinterklaaspieks, with raised, clenched fist, to be given in protest to people who had Christmas or Santa Claus things out before December 6th. The plastic Sints were free to people sending stamped, self-addressed envelopes.

Boomerang in Amsterdam joined the cause with “Boomerang supports Sinterklaas” cards in 1997. They have continued offering other Santa/Sinterklaas cards, too.

Santa hanging from branch
Len Munnik
Boomerang Studycard, 1997
Santa as a trophy
Emiel de Bolle
Boomerang Studycard, 1997
Santa and Sint match
“Battle of the saints”
Jeremy van den Heuvel
Boomerang School Card
Sint and Santa arm wrestling
Boomerang card, 2008

SOURCES

  • “Dutch Town to Santa: Get Lost” AP Associated Press, November 11, 1994.
  • “‘Real’ Dutch Santa faces fight from U.S. import,” Reuters, December 21, 2006.
  • “Sinterklaas verbiedt reclame kerstmarkt” Drenthe Journal, November 24, 2012.
  • Sinterklaaspiek

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