Last weekend Sinterklaas made many children and adults in the Netherlands happy with presents. According to sociologist Mark van Ostaijen, traditions and rituals play an important role in every society. In an article in the Volkskrant he says: 'They give meaning to our lives. They offer something to hold on to in a changing and complex society'.
Passing on values
In the Netherlands, according to Van Ostaijen, the Sinterklaas feast is used to pass on values that are considered important between generations. For example that family ties are important, or the idea that good behaviour matters - that at the end of the year there is a moral reckoning that is described in a book. According to the sociologist, Sinterklaas is a tradition in its most classical form. In addition, he argues, children now occupy an important place in Western society.
Skipping a year is therefore not an option, according to Van Ostaijen. ‘The discussion about Zwarte Piet, in which the Dutch climbed the barricades, proves that the tradition of Sinterklaas fulfils an important role in this society. It is a meaningful practice. We don't do that for St Maarten.'