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.
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
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
COMSFORs weekly meeting.
Nations of SFOR: Netherland