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Bon Bini Sanikolas! Get Your Shoes Ready as Old St. Nick Comes to Bonaire

by Lou-Ann Jordan Nov 7, 2022

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As the year ends, excitement builds in the hearts of our little ones. While we may have forgotten the thrill of the Christmas holidays, they surely haven’t. Most children are excited about December and the various children-centred activities leading up to the finale, Christmas Day. However, we do things differently here in Bonaire—we start a little earlier. 

November is the month that gets our children’s hearts racing as they eagerly, and we do stress, eagerly await the arrival of Sanikolas (Sinterklaas) and his Zwarte Piet. One of the most anticipated annual events in Bonaire, the long-held tradition never fails to draw a crowd of the young and the not-so-young.

For visitors to our island, who may wonder, the folkloric tradition is our amalgamation of Santa Claus and Saint Nicholas and originates from our Dutch heritage. Believed to have travelled from Spain, Sanikolas is accompanied by his companion, whom folklore tells was a Moorish orphan Sanikolas trained to be his helper. In his role as Sanikolas’ assistant, Zwarte Piet heralds his appearance with an elaborate dance for all gathered.

The duo spends two weeks on the island, visiting children and rewarding them for their good behaviour. Shoes filled with some token or the other means they’ve been nice. What of those who’ve been naughty? Well, they run the risk of being spirited away in one of Sanikolas on his return to Spain and becoming a Zwarte Piet.

Well, for locals and visitors alike, it’s that time again, as Sanikolas is scheduled to arrive on 19 November at Wilhelmina Park. There will also be several other fun activities for all to enjoy. Be sure to bring the whole family.

You can visit Info Bonaire or the Komishon Sanikolas Boneiru Facebook page for more information.  

Now, get yours, yes, yours even if you are visiting, and your little ones’ shoes ready for Sanikolas’ reward for being so good all year round.

Sources: American Academy, Info Bonaire and Time.