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The Good Saint is coming


The ‘Good Saint’ – also known as Sinterklaas or Sint-Nicolaas – and his helper Piet are in the country and will be spending the night of 5 December travelling over our roofs to reward all the well-behaved children, so they can wake up on 6 December to lovely gifts and delicious treats. Young children (and old ones) also eagerly awaited the arrival of The Good Saint in the 1950s and 60s. ‘It’s Sinterklaas’s birthday; I’m leaving my shoe out for him to fill with goodies…’

As the days get shorter, the Feast of Saint Nicholas approaches (on 6 December – Saint Nicholas Day). Inspired by the many toy catalogues doing the rounds, children diligently finish off their letters for the good children’s friend – as they hope to receive sweets and toys in exchange for a year’s good behaviour. Their greatest fear? That the Good Saint will pass their house silently without stopping. So, on their best behaviour, they crawl into bed with their minds full of toys and their bellies full of nerves on the evening before 6 December.

Letter from little Nathalie to Sinterklaas (in Dutch) - film still
Letter from little Nathalie to Sinterklaas (in Dutch) - film still

There was just as much enthusiasm for the Good Saint in the 1950 and 60s. This video shows children secretly looking in the diary to see what might be in store for them on 6 December, or impatiently tossing and turning in bed at night. What are these children dreaming of? We see all sorts of toys being considered: dolls, Dinky Toys cars, a trumpet, roller skates, an electric model train… although in her letter, Nathalie is looking for something bigger and aiming for a cinema (see image). Do you think she got one?

This entertaining video was edited by Jasper Rigole in 2017 and comes from our content partner, Huis van Alijn. This museum in Ghent collects, researches, manages and shares memories about daily life. 20th century traditions, rituals and customs are central to their work. Find out more about the Good Saint – Sinterklaas – via this link.