Sinterklaas is the dutch name for St. Nicholas. Around 4th century A.D he was the bishop of Myra which is now located in Turkey. Tales of him saving his town from starvation, reviving young children and giving gifts to poor girls have circulated from the time of this death in the year 343.
His legend of giving gifts became custom on the eve of his feast day which was the 6th of December and also the day it is thought he died. He had a companion called Zwarte Piet (meaning Black Pete) that helped him deliver gifts to the good children and punish the 'evil ones'. Good children would be given "schuimpjes" or sweets and the bad children were told they would be taken to Spain in Zwarte Piet's bag or given "roede" (the rod) instead of sweets.
In Holland a few weeks before Sinterklaas's feast day, he shows up with all of his helpers and presents and the children put out their shoes in front of the fireplace. During the night Sinterklass visits all the houses on his Schimmel (white horse) and Zwarte Piet enters the homes through the chimney delivering the presents in the children's shoes. On the eve of his feast day Sinterklaas goes around to all of the good children and drops off a big bag full of presents.