Make the most of your stories and traditions

Today it is pakjesavond here in the Netherlands. The day when Dutch children receive gifts from Sinterklaas and his servants de Zwarte Pieten.  

I find it interesting that a saint who was born year 270  still impacts so many  people. Saint Nicholas was a Greek bishop of Myra, a patron saint for children. Actually, the legend of Sinterklaas is the origin of the more known Santa Claus. This saint has influenced the lives of children ever since.

How can someone who lived so long ago inspire a tradition that - almost 2000 years later -  is still celebrated?

One reason is that legends impact us. Since stories can be powerful influencers, they are sometimes used to manipulate people.

Sinterklaas is far from the only figure who has been used to teach children the importance of being kind (then you will get presents) and that bad things will happen to you if you are naughty (then Zwarte Piet will put you in a bag and take you to Spain). Similar stories are used in many other legends and not just for children. I believe most of you have heard the story of the importance of being a good person (then you get to heaven) and that bad things will happen to you if you are evil (then you will end up in hell).

The story of Sinterklaas has evolved and changed throughout the years. Today Sinterklaas comes by steam boat to the Netherlands from Spain and the once scary Zwarte Pieten are spending more time having fun with the children than scaring them. Parents may still use the legend to manipulate their kids, but more often than not the tradition is used for having a great time together as a family. Kids put their shoes in front of the chimney, sing for Sinterklaas, leave a carrot for the horse and the day after they are rewarded with a gift in the shoe.

Celebrating Sinterklaas 2013

What about your own stories?  Beliefs you have about yourself. That you are stupid / smart, ugly / gorgeous, kind/mean, clumsy / handy....

The story of Sinterklaas has survived for almost 2000 years. Your stories about yourself and people around you may very well last your whole life time. It is up to you to ensure the stories are enjoyable and good for you.  Just like a well-celebrated pakjesavond.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting and a nice story.
    Have lots of fun and pakjes.