One of the most characteristic festivities in the Netherlands is the feast of Saint Nicholas or Sinterklaas. It is celebrated especially in families with little children. In the United States the original figure of Dutch Sinterklaas has merged with Father Christmas into Santa Claus. In the Netherlands, gift-bringing at Christmas has recently gained some popularity too, but Sinterklaas is much more popular.
Another characteristic festivity in the Netherlands is the feast of Saint Maarten. The day is celebrated in the evening of November 11 in some parts of the Netherlands. Children go by the doors with paper lanterns and candles, and sing songs about St. Martin and about their lantern in return for a treat. Often, a man dressed as St. Martin rides on a horse in front of the procession. In some regions the paper lantern is replaced by a self made lantern, made from a hollowed out sugar beet (suikerbiet).