Santa Claus: Sinterklaas ánd Babbo Natale

Now the days are getting shorter, party season is around the corner. Time for our favourite bearded men to come and overload our children with presents. I grew up with Sinterklaas (Saint Nicholas, 5th of December) and Antonio with Babbo Natale (Santa Claus, 25th of December). Our children will grow up with both.

Today I went to the mall with my 3,5 year old daugther. The first preparations for Sinterklaas’ birthday are in progress. Reason enough for her to fire some questions at me while we were on our bike back home.

“Mom, how do we say Sinterklaas in French?”
“And in Italian?”
“San Nicola”

Ok, passed the test until here. But she continued:

“What is Sinterklaas’ last name?”
“I don’t know, let’s look that up when we get home.”
“OK! And what is Babbo Natales last name?”
“Let’s ask dad when we get there.”


Then we sang a traditional Sinterklaas song:

“Sinterklaas Kapoentje,
gooi wat in mijn schoentje,
gooi wat in mijn laarsje,
dank u Sinterklaasje.”

“Dear [rich] Saint Nicholas,
please put something in my shoe,
please put something in my boot,
thank you Sinterklaasje (little Saint Nicholas).”

She processed this shortly in her little head and then concluded:
“So we do say ‘sinterklaasje’, but we don’t say ‘Babbo Natalino’ (little Santa Claus).”

I love watching her fantasy at work. To her, Sinterklaas and Santa Claus are close friends that like to go out together when they’re not bringin us presents. When she finds one of them in her books, she often just imagines the other one somewhere near.

When I took her to bed later on, she wanted to know the names of Sinterklaas’ and Santa’s mothers. Unfortunately, I had no idea, so I told her they’re called ‘nanna Klaas’ and ‘nanna Natale’.

Obviously, I’d like to tell her their real names. So I found out that Sinterklaas’ mother is called Anna. Wikipedia then tells me that Babbo Natale is actually based on Sinterklaas. So I should probably tell her that his mother is also called Anna…

Let’s see what my daughter makes of that!

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