Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet
Like the celebration of Santa Claus in the States in Christmas, the Dutch has their Sinterklaas to be celebrated every 5th of December. As winter approaches, so does the celebration season for the Sinterklaas in the Netherlands.
For ones who are not familiar with this particular Dutch culture, Sinterklass might sound like a Dutch version of Santa Claus. Regardless of different historical origin, the tradition of Sinterklaas celebration is way more dazzling than the bland story of Santa Claus with his reindeer sleigh and elves workbots. Wonder why? Let’s have a look at those pictures first:
You can not possibly miss the man in red robe and big white beard in the picture above. That’s the traditional portrait of Sintterklaas. Looks quite similar to Santa, doesn’t it? But look closely at the people around him, notice anything unusual? If not here’s a clear picture of the people around him:
See that? The “black” people in clown suits are “Zwarte Piet“, literally means “Black Peter” in English. That’s the dazzling part of Dutch Sinterklaas celebration.
First time I saw such celebration in the Netherlands I was literally stuttered. Black servants in clown suits around the white-bearded Sinterklaas? I had to pinch myself to make sure it was real. The Dutch really celebrated the festival with great enthusiasm, even if that means a white Sinterklaas with dozen black Zwarte Piet in the parade. Gotta give credits to their tenacity to cling to their peculiar traditions.
You know what’s even more outrageously hilarious? Being a country full of blacks from Suriname, Somalia and so on, in the Netherlands the portrait of Zwarte Piet has always been done by the blond Dutch locals, even if that means additional black paints and ridiculous afro-wigs, such as this one:
Those black paints are really good for the Halloween costume party for sure.