Sinterklaas (Santa Claus) and his Zwarte Pieten (Black Peter) helpers arrive in the Netherlands sometime towards the end of November, and do a tour of Holland before delivering pressies to millions of Dutch kiddies on December 5th.
Sinterklaas is the basis for the North American figure of Santa Claus who later was 're-designed' to match a cola company's needs in the 20th Century. It was during the American War of Independence, that the Roman-Catholic inhabitants of New York City, a former Dutch colonial town (New Amsterdam) which had been traded by the Dutch for other territories, reinvented their Sinterklaas tradition, who was regarded as an alternative for the "Irish Catholic" Saint Patrick.
I could tell you a lot about the wacky details of this holiday, but David Sadaris has already done the job for me. Click here to listen to David Sedaris tell the story of 6 to 8 Black Men on Odeo.