Speakeasy forum: Sinterklaas & Zwarte Piet, Christmas in Netherlands

by: James Denison October 29, 2013 12:23 AM PDT

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Sinterklaas & Zwarte Piet, Christmas in Netherlands

by James Denison - 10/29/13 12:23 AM

sounds more like Halloween than Christmas.

"In America you have Santa Claus, in the UK he's Father Christmas,
and in the Netherlands he's called Sinterklaas. Unlike the other
Santas, though, the Dutch Sinterklaas arrives with his slave/servant
called Zwarte Piet. The slave-servant comes dressed like a renaissance
minstrel: black face, painted red lips, afro wig. The arrival is a huge
event: Sinterklaas and the Zwarte Pieten make a grand entrance, and the
whole parade is broadcast on public television. Sinterklaas sits tall on
a white horse while his black servants share out candy to the kids on
the sidelines, and families from all over the country turn up to watch.
Or course, there are always several Black Petes, typically played by
white people, all in blackface, with red painted lips and afro wigs. The
transformation, however, is not complete with the outfit and
greasepaint. The character must speak poor Dutch with a stupid accent,
and must act childlike and mischievous when performing. And from
mid-November, when Sintaklass and his servants arrive, you can see
Zwarte Pieten all over, on television programmes and commercials and on
the streets, acting the fool."

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