View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Evening notes

Went down to Sandwick Cemetery this afternoon and spent a freezing and fruitless hour there, trying to locate a grave for Finaly Mclean of Sandwick. I posted about him yesterday. I'll continue my investigations tomorrow.

Snow appears to be on its way back in again, if my reading of the rainfall radar is anything to go by. And the cold is here to stay, according to the Met Office. The frost from last week has caused problems in the outlying districts of Lewis. Mains water is supplied from a large tank outside a village, but if someone's pipes are burst that obviously drains the tank. Quite a few houses are not occupied at this time, so any leaks will not be noticed.

Sunday 5 December

Today is the eve of St Nicholas, the original and only Santa Klaus (sorry). In Holland, Flanders and western Germany, children will have spent the past fortnight or so putting their shoe in front of the fireplace, with a carrot in it. St Nicholas rides the roofs on his white charger, surrounded by Black Peters who do the dirty work of bringing presents. During the night, they wil go down the chimney to collect the carrot and leave a present in the shoe. Children who have been bad will find a bunch of twigs, indicative of punishment. The really bad ones will be taken back to Spain in the sack.

It all starts in mid-November, when St Nicholas arrives in Holland (or one of its towns) in a steamer, well, any boat really, with his posse of Peters. The Peters go off running around, scattering sweeties amidst the assembled children. Towns not near the sea or water will see St Nicholas arriving by train. Or coach if there is no railway station. St Nicholas arrives from Spain, as that is the place where his remains lie interred. Originally, he is from Turkey, but when the Muslims came, the bones were spirited across the Mediterranean to Spain.

I close this post with an image from the island of Vlieland in Holland, where Sinterklaas arrived on a perishing cold day last Friday. Image courtesy VVV Vlieland [Tourist Information]. You can see all images from the VVV on the link.