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The Dutch don’t think it’s racist for Santa to have black slaves - Quartz

The Dutch don t think it s racist for Santa to have black slaves Quartz


Every year around this time, people in the Netherlands paint themselves in blackface and go around pretending to be Santa’s African slaves. According to polls, 92% of Dutch people think this is just fine.

They call themselves Zwarte Piets (Black Petes). According to Dutch legend, they are the “Moorish” entourage that arrives with Santa Claus (Sinterklaas) by steamship to deliver pre-Christmas presents to good children and carry away bad ones. And every November for the past 150 years, black-faced Zwarte Piet impersonators and (white-skinned) Santa impersonators have paraded around cities in Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg to build up anticipation for “Presents Day” on Dec. 5—the day when kids check their shoes for gifts (instead of Christmas)—and Sinterklaas Day on Dec. 6.


This year, for the first time, the Dutch government is finally making concessions. Tiny ones. November 2014 was the first time that Gouda’s city officials added new “Cheese Petes” and “Waffel Petes” painted yellow and checkered brown after Gouda’s famous cheese and waffles, in an effort to detract attention from the Zwarte Piets.

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Interestingly messy heritage.  Seems like the characters have the same role as "elves".  But they're going to lose the argument related to racism.  Easy to fix: in addition to cheese and waffles, they can chose unnatural colors / patterns: orange, purple, polka dots, etc.

Yeah, this is a tradition the Dutch need to let go of.

But now that you mention it, Santa better be paying the elves for their hard work, too.

The interpretation of this article is quite wrong.

First of all Sinterklaas is not Santa. Sinterklaas has his own story and origin. Therefore Santa also exist in The Netherlands.

Second, Pete is not a slave. He is Sinterklaas' helper. He's black because he goes through the chimney.

Third, they aren't his 'Moorish' entourage. There's a theory that Saint Nicolas (Sinterklaas) originally comes from the Moorish empire. So he is Moorish as well as his entourage.

Fourth, carrying away bad childeren is a part of the tradition which largely has been abolished.

Fifth, "...instead of Christmas...", no there is also Christmas, yes the Dutch do both, "...and Sinterklaas Day on Dec. 6..." It's on Dec. 5. And there are a lot more misinterpretations.

Bottomline, the feast Sinterklaas is a wide mix of cultures and influences. 92% of Dutch people don't think the Sinterklaas feast is racist, simply because it is not based on a racist idea. It is the interpretation of outsiders, who don't know the tradition and the facts, which makes people think it might be racist. 

In the Netherlands there is a multicultural society. Therefore more and more Dutch people want to change the tradition, to put an end to racist comparison. So they already have Rainbow Petes, Clown Petes and indeed Waffel and Cheese Petes. Nevertheless, the majority of the Petes is still black. But that is changing. And more is changing. This year they introduced also a black Sinterklaas.

So it would be good if people cease to express unjustified accusations of racism. That is really disrespectful and insulting.

I'm sure that many interpret it as you say, or it would be changed.  Would be interesting to know if it is easy to find Dutch people who are racist and see how they interpret it.  Anyway, happened to watch this live last night:

Note at about -55, the mention of what she translates as "little negro kisses" candy (chocolate covered marshmallows).

I watched it, and she really doesn't know what she is talking about. First of all, again, saying it's Dutch Christmas. Well if she had really put some research in it, the first thing she would notice, that is isn't Christmas. Sorry, I can't take this serious. I prefer an interpretation of facts, above fanciful populist story.

About those elves...  These guys were thinking along the same lines:


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