A century-old Dutch holiday tradition involving St. Nicholas and his companion – Black Pete – has found itself at the center of yet another anti-racist campaign, all because Pete is a now nothing more than a blackface character!
The Netherlands traditionally celebrates the Arrival of Sinterklaas – or St. Nicholas –with annual street parades in early December.
However, it isn’t just cheerful, colorfully dressed festival-goers that will be taking to the streets this weekend, as dozens of protests take place across the country against what was once a children’s holiday tradition.
It is not that the Dutch suddenly became disgruntled over a Christian Spanish saint with a long white beard greeting children ahead of Christmas.
It is his companion that has been sparking uproar in some parts of society. Zwarte Piet – or Black Pete – is usually portrayed by people wearing full blackface, red lipstick, curly wigs and dressed in colorful costumes.
Black Pete hasn’t always been all that warm and fuzzy. St. Nicholas’ companion has come a long way from being a much more menacing character punishing poorly behaved children.
He has been associated with Moors living in Spain and even with demons, according to some reports. Some also claim that he is nothing more than the legacy of the Dutch colonial past.
The “Kick Out Black Pete” movement that has been active in the Netherlands for several years, and has organized protests against the tradition on the sidelines of street parades in about a dozen Dutch cities, including The Hague.
Dutch authorities and the media have seemingly also grown uncomfortable with a topic that sparks such controversy these days.
Dutch TV has decided to drop characters wearing full blackface in favor of ones with a few dark smudges representing soot from all the chimneys they are supposed to climb down while delivering presents.
However, the Dutch public appears to be in no rush to follow yet another woke trend.
Some towns and cities, including the Dutch capital of Amsterdam, as well as Apeldoorn, which hosts the nationally televised Arrival of St. Nicholas, also adopted Sooty Petes for their parades.
Almost 60% of Dutch people still want to keep Black Pete as he is – with blackface – while only slightly more than 25% of them said that the tradition needs to be changed.
The street parades across the Netherlands have certainly seen their fair share of blackface-wearing Pete’s this weekend.
RT. com / ABC Flash Point News 2019.