Today in the Netherlands Dutch children still await the arrival of Sinterklaas (St. Nicholas) who is said to sail from Spain on his feast day with his assistant, Swarte Piet (Black Pete) who knows who has been bad and who has been good. During the night Sinterklaas visits all the houses by travelling over the roofs on his white horse called Schimmel, and Zwarte Piet enters the houses through the chimney to put little presents in the children's shoes. North American traditions changed the Moorish slave Zwarte Piet (Black Pete) to elves who aid Santa on his yearly endeavour. The term Sinterklaas also became corrupted by english speaking settlers and it became Santa Claus over the years.

In a number of European countries St. Nicholas leads a donkey laden with baskets full of treats and toys for children. It is common, especially in North America, for children to expect Santa to arrive in a sleigh pulled by reindeer (usually eight, possible nine on a foggy night).