2013 Blackface Christmas holiday concludes again the Netherlands
The annual feast of St. Nicholas Eve is celebrated on December 5 (Sinterklaasavond) in the Netherlands and on December 6 in Belgium.
The Dutch Sinterklaas travels by steamboat instead of sleigh and from Spain. Instead of elves, he has characters played by white people in blackface known as Black Pete.
Black Pete: Time to give Santa’s ‘racist’ little helpers the boot?
By Sophie McBain
According to Dutch tradition, Sinterklaas, or Saint Nicholas, arrives in the Netherlands from Spain each November for a visit that culminates in him delivering sweets and presents to well-behaved children on the night of 5 December. This year, Sinterklaas has sparked a debate so fierce that even the UN has become involved.
At the root of the controversy are Sinterklaas’s helpers, called the Zwarte Pieten, or Black Petes.
The Zwarte Piet debate has flared up annually for the past few years, but this year, the UN High Commission on Human Rights wrote to the Dutch government suggesting that the Sinterklaas celebrations could be racist.
Video: Dutch’ Black Pete’ figure criticized
Video: Protest against racist ‘Black Pete’
Video: Netherlands: ‘Black Pete’ street show open racism
Video: Santa and his army of black Pete helpers arrives in Amsterdam
Learn about the origins of why blackfaces are used