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

by Lou-Ann Jordan Nov 17, 2023

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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. Well, the wait is over, because on Saturday 18 November, Sanikolas and his helper will make their first appearance for the holidays. The duo will arrive at Wilhelmina Park at 8am, but will continue to travel around the island, visiting kids, until St. Nicholas’ Eve, 5 December. (prodavinci.com)

For those wondering, this folkloric tradition is an 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 us 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 pair 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? They run the risk of being spirited away with Sanikolas on his return to Spain and becoming a Zwarte Piet.

This Saturday is an opportunity for all to get into the holiday spirit. It will be a fun event for the whole family, as several other fun activities will take place alongside the main event. Also, have no fear; if you miss this event, remember that Sanikolas and his Zwarte Piet will be here until 5 December. So, get yours and your little ones’ shoes ready for Sanikolas’ reward for being so good all year round!

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

Sources: American Academy, Info Bonaire and Time.