Sinterklaas and Black Pete


Typical Dutch Event: Sinterklaas and Black Pete.

November is an exiting time for little children in Holland. Because then Sinterklaas arrives in Holland with his steamboat. The boat is loaded with presents. On the quay hundreds of parents welcome him with there children by singing Sinterklaas songs. This very old bishop brings many servants who have black painted faces and wear a special costume. They all have the same name: Black Pete. In many places all over the country the steamboat arrives with a Sinterklaas. In the Netherlands, this festival has been celebrated for centuries.

The history tells us that the holy Nicholas, Sinterklaas, was the patron saint of children. Through the centuries, the story has transformed into what it is now. It has nothing to do with religion anymore.
Sinterklaas is a hundreds of years old bishop riding a beautiful white horse. Every year in november he comes to Holland to celebrate his birthday on 5 december. Upon his arrival all the Black Petes hand out candy to the children.

In the period before his birthday the children put one of their shoes near the stove before they go to sleep. Sometimes they put a carrot in their shoe for the horse and a drawing for Sinterklaas.
The story goes that in the night Sinterklaas rides over the roofs on his white horse and the Black Petes let themselves down through the chimneys to fill the shoes with candy or other little presents. That’s what the Dutch tell their children. The parents put the presents in the shoes and take away the carrot and drawing.

On 5 december, Sinterklaas his birthday, it is gifts evening. On this evening the children are singing Sinterklaas songs near the stove and then suddenly there is a loud knock on the door. That will be Black Pete. The kids run to the door and find a bag with presents. Black Pete is nowhere to find…

But not everyone is happy with this festival. The black part of the Dutch people believe that Black Pete it is a rascist caricature. So protests are organized around this time. It makes some white Dutch groups very angry because the festival belongs to the Dutch culture for centuries. The moderate Dutch search for an alternative like Pete with another color or a Pete with soot sweeps because of his chimney actions. The future will bring a solution.

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