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Dutch News

1 December 2014
Controversy in Holland over whether Black Pete is racist

This coming Friday night Saint Nicholas will be celebrated again with the giving of gifts to children in the Netherlands, and on the morning of 6 December, Saint Nicholas Day itself, in Belgium, Luxembourg, and Northern France. He is also well known in territories of the former Dutch Empire, including Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao. But since a few years the festivety is landing on the naughty list for some in the Netherlands, who say his Black Pete sidekick is a racist throwback to the colonial era.


This coming week all the Saint Nicholas centres will send out Sinterklazen and Black Pete's to schools and family houses. Although some Dutch cities decided to change the appearance of Pete, making him less black, most of the Saint Nicholas centres decided to send out their Pete's in their traditional outfit, with black faces.

 

Over the last years scientists have come up with various interpretations and theories about how Black Pete came into existence. Is he a directly linked to slavery, the trade where the Dutch have been so active in, or is the tradition much older? A children's party taken over by grown up's and a changing tradition in a multicultural society.

 

Links:

Police refuse to write up Zwarte Piet death threat

Three Zwarte Pieten get death threats; man arrested

Latest documentary: 'Zwart als roet' ('As black as soot') (Dutch)

Children 'black up' for Saint Nicholas festival despite controversy

Video: Documentary blackface Zwarte Piet mystifies Londoners

Dutch 'Black Pete' Christmas custom may be racist, warns UN

'Black Pete' controversy stirs up Netherlands

Clashes at Dutch Black Pete protest in Gouda




 

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