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Sinterklaas arrives in Camp Butmir

By 1Lt Javier Donesteve
First published in
SFOR Informer#103, December 20, 2000

Sarajevo-The re-enactment of an old Dutch tradition took place at Camp Butmir on December 5.
Every year, the day before his birthday (which is December 6) , Sinterklaas with his assistant, "Zwarte Pieten" (Black Pete) leaves his residence in Spain, and arrives in the The Netherlands in his steam boat full of presents. Then, mounted on his horse, "Schimmel", carrying a book with the names of who has been good or not, Sinterklaas visits every home through the chimney, and leaves presents for the children. The eager children have left their shoes filled with carrots for the horse. Carrots that, of course, have disappeared next morning.
The origin of the tradition is thought to be Saint Nicholas, Bishop of Mira (Turkey). This would perhaps explain Sinterklaas wearing red, and carrying a crooked mitre. The roots of Black pete are unclear, but it seems to come from an Italian medieval chimney-sweeper, which would explain his black colour.
At Butmir, the role of Sinterklaas was performed by Brigadier Peter Van Uhm, Royal Netherlands Army, and the Piets by Brigadier Georg Nachtsheim, German Army and Sgt. Maj. Fred Huttjes, also from RNLA. The horse "Schimmel" was also represented by a cousin from Bosnia.
Sinterklaas arrived on his own, and did his job, sharing smiles, sweets and good humour, and visiting all the branches of the HQ, including COMSFOR’s weekly meeting.

Related links:
Nations of SFOR: Netherland