No it’s not Santa. Sinterklaas is a real Dutch phenomena. Every year on a Sunday in mid November he arrives in Amsterdam, coming from Spain on his steamboat. There he gets on his white horse and takes a tour through Amsterdam. His lively cheerful servants, all named Zwarte Piet (Black Pete), run all over the place, being silly and handing over a special sort of candy (pepernoten, speculaas) to the children.
From the arrival of Sinterklaas untill December 5, the kids are excited. Almost everywhere Sinterklaas can pop-up. Because it is a busy time for this old man, everybody finds it perfectly normal to run into an ‘assistant Sinterklaas’ who obviously isn’t the real one, but is treated with the same respect.
Sinterklaas is a generous man, every night he is out with his servants, putting presents and treats in children’s shoes. This leads to a climax on December 5th, when he sends his servants out delivering big bags of presents to almost every house where children live and brings a visit to many of them himself (funny video).
After December 5, Sinterklaas goes home in a quiet way and the Dutch prepare for Christmas. (And maybe even Santa. We don’t mind getting presents twice.)