African Moors from Spain: Annual racist Christmas custom returns to the Netherlands

African Moors from Spain: Annual racist Christmas custom returns to the Netherlands

Once again the annual Dutch tradition of Zwarte Piet or Black Pete arrives with the Christmas holiday. The Black Pete tradition is also followed in Belgium and Luxembourg.

Dutch tradition is that Sinterklaas (or Saint Nicholas) arrives in the Netherlands from Spain each November for a visit that culminates in him delivering gifts and candy to well-behaved children on the night of December 5th before heading back to Spain.

The Sinterklaas celebration continues to be the center of a debate about racism in the Netherlands, because Sinterklaas’ white European helpers are in black face to represent the black African Moors who once ruled over the Iberian Peninsula. The Kingdom of Granada was the last Moorish Muslim-ruled state in Spain. Granada fell to the Christian Catholic Monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabel, in 1492. Christopher Columbus  also had his first voyage, in 1492, to the Caribbean. The Spanish Inquisition, was established in 1478 by Catholic Monarchs Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile. During this time followers of Judaism and Islam were forced, by royal decrees, to leave, convert to Christianity or be executed in 1492 and 1502.

The Spanish understood forced labor prior to their encounter with New World peoples due to the Romans rule over the Visigoths in the Iberian peninsula. Later, some Moor Muslims enslaved European Christians in the Iberian peninsula, although not Chattel Slavery. With the Christian reconquest, the European Spanish enslaved some of the African Moors who remained or who were conquered.

Philip II (born May 21, 1527 and died September 13, 1598) was king of the Spain (1556–1598) and king of the Portuguese (as Philip I, 1580–1598). Philip II was a champion of the Christian Roman Catholic Counter-Reformation. During his reign the Spanish empire attained its greatest power, extent, and influence, though he failed to suppress the revolt of the Netherlands.

The Revolt of the Spanish Netherlands (Habsburg Empire) led to the collapse of Spain as a major European power. The Dutch United Provinces declared their independence from Spain in 1579 and during the 17th century, they became a leading seafaring, commercial power and African enslavers.  The Dutch were major traders of enslaved Africans, with settlements and colonies around the world.



Video: Why blackface is still part of Dutch Christmas

Video: Zwarte Piet

Video: Dozens arrested at protests over racist blackface Christmas character “Black Pete” in Holland

Video: Sinterklaas’ arrival

Video: Netherlands- Police keep protesters apart at demo against ‘Black Pete’ parade

Video: Dear Dutch People: Zwarte Piet is RACIST | Sinterklaas Netherlands

Video: Zwarte Piet and fight for tradition

Learn about the origins of why blackfaces are used -the black African Moors who ruled over Spain and Portugal
See links

In 711, the black African Moors invaded Visigoth (modern Spain), Christian Hispania (Iberian Peninsula
The Moors ruled in the Iberian peninsula, except for areas in the northwest and the largely Basque regions in the Pyrenees, and in North Africa.

In 1492 King Ferdinand and Isabella expelled the entire Jewish community is expelled from Spain. This occurred when the Spanish Army defeated black African Muslim Moorish forces in Granada, thereby restoring the whole of Spain to European Christian rule.

In 1494 Jews of Florence and Tuscany were expelled.

In 1497 Portugal expelled its Jews. King Manuel of Portugal agreed to marry the daughter of Spain’s monarchs. One of the conditions for the marriage was the expulsion of Portugal’s Jewish community. In actuality only a few Jews were exiled from Portugal and the rest were converted by force to Christianity. On March 19, 1497 (the first day of Passover), Jewish parents were ordered to take their children, between the ages of four and fourteen, to Lisbon. Upon arrival, the parents were informed that their children were going to be taken away from them and were to be given to Christian Catholic families to be raised as good Catholics.


“Black Faced” European folk characters seen annually at Christmas holiday season- Is this actually a history lesson?
The black African Moors of Spain and Portugal

2013 Blackface Christmas gift giving season concludes again in the Netherlands

Santa Claus (“Saint Nicholas”) under fire over black faced helpers

Christmas and Africans in America -the other story

Historical Flashback: Christmas and enslavement in the United States

Other racist images are used in the Netherlands
Origins of Dutch royal wealth

The “Golden Carriage” was given to Queen Wilhelmina from the people of Amsterdam as a gift in 1898. The painting by Nicolaas van der Waay was intended to recreate the style of the country’s 17th-century “Golden Age,” in which Amsterdam became wealthy as the hub of a naval empire. It depicts enslaved Africans.
Queen Beatrix Royal Carriage

Images shown on the Dutch royal carriage are of enslaved black Africans and the conversion of Africans from their Traditional African Religion into Christians.

Queen Beatrix Royal Carriage

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