Sinterklaas speaks Ukrainian in Haarlem

It was moving to see how the Ukrainian children received their own Sinterklaas this morning in Haarlem. Obviously and happy as if they had done nothing else all their lives. The saint who makes his appearance in the old V&D building this morning appears to speak perfect Ukrainian. Logical if you know that a few days ago he was still walking around in the hard-fought city of Cherson. Despite the razor-sharp contrast, the saint knew his job: he spoke reassuring words and handed out presents.

Sint visits Ukrainian war refugees in Haarlem – NH News

The party was organized under the banner of the Rasom foundation led by the energetic Anna Roelofs-Ivanchenko. Dozens of children with their parents wait for Santa while they chant “Sinterklaas, Sinterklaas”. Sint enters the banquet hall, a bit unfamiliar, with two modernly painted soot sweepers. He is taken to his seat where his book is located, in which all the names of the Ukrainian children are listed.


Anna Roelofs-Ivanchenko from Rasom and the main driving force behind the celebration says that Saint Nicholas is not unknown in Ukraine at all. He is only called Nicolai there and his name day falls a little later, on December 19. The party is also celebrated, but not as big as in the Netherlands. Instead of Piets as helpers, Nicolai has a number of angels at his disposal.

“Many Ukrainian children go to school here and of course get the whole vibe along”

Anna Roelofs-Ivanchenko, organizer

The children therefore already know Saint Nicholas from their home country, but otherwise most of them go to school in the Netherlands. In that place they also came into contact with the typical Dutch party. This is noticeable, because the children are not at all surprised when they are pelted with ginger nuts by the helpers. They also look familiar when they unwrap their chocolate letter.


In the meantime, Saint Nicholas is visibly moved by the crowd of children at his feet. He patiently reads all the names and lets us know that he enjoys the children and the communication. The Ukrainian Saint does not yet have more English language skills, he left Ukraine a few days ago. Not surprising and therefore not necessary today, because today the language of instruction at his party in Haarlem was Ukrainian for young and old. Anna, who knows Saint Nicholas very well, says on behalf of Sinterklaas that the contrast with the situation in Kherson is indeed very great, but that he is very happy to be here.