The Dutch tradition: Sinterklaas en Zwarte Piet

Hello Everyone! I have been away for almost 2 weeks which seems like a long time but I am back again!! Did you miss me? 🙂

As you can probably already guess I have fixed the problem plaguing my computer and I am back to my regular twice a week postings (three postings every other week).

Today is Wednesday and you may already know what that means. It is my Opinion Wednesdays where I will  usually write my opinion on whichever topic piques my curiousity or interest at the time. Today I will be talking a little about Sinterklaas en de Zwarte Pieten (Saint Nick and the Black Petes) that is celebrated here in the Netherlands.  Now, take note: I am not trying to bash or insult anyone’s culture, tradition or anything of the sort. I am only stating my opinion and how I feel about it and that is all.

Anyway, I wanted to discuss this topic a long time ago before my computer encountered problems, but whatever. Sinterklaas is celebrated every first week of December (this year it was the 5th of December 2015 , the day after Saba Day which I mention in a previous post)

I will not condemn the tradition because that is not my place and I have no right coming into another person’s country and telling them what they should and should not do (or celebrate as tradition) just because it might offend me and a couple of others. Dutch people are free to do as they please with their tradition and customs because I too would be angry if a foreigner had to come in to my country, Saba, and tell me and the people there that we could not celebrate this and that because it offend them. In all honesty I would be pissed. But what I can do is not participate in such things and I will not allow my (future) children to participate in those things because of my own personal beliefs and all of that. For the past 5 years I have been living in the Netherlands I have not once went to Sinterklaas and I don’t intend to go in the future, but I don’t particularly care if others want to go. That’s their choice and they can do as they please. What they do does not hurt me in any way, so I do not really care.

Anyway, many Dutch people are told this story of Sinterklaas from the time they are little babies until they are grown adults. It is said that Sinterklaas (A man looking similar to that of what many people know as Santa Claus without the big red costume, being fat and having reindeers and elves.)  originated from, Turkey and lived in Spain, rode a white horse with his helpers/ servants by his side. It is said that he and his servants known as the Black Petes go around giving presents to kids who have been good and bend those kids who have been naughty over their knee and spank their bums.

Okay, here it comes. What I particularly do not really like about Sinterklaas is, as you must already know, that the Black Petes are depicted as black people. And I have also heard the Dutch saying that their tradition has nothing to do with people making fun of black people by dressing as them and has nothing to do with racism.

They claim that the reason Black Pete is black is because he came down the chimney and the ash and soot made him that way… I do not believe that. Sorry. If ash and soot was the ‘real’ cause of Black Pete becoming black why is his whole body covered in black instead of having black smudges on his body and clothes? And as far as I know coming down a chimney does not make a person’s hair become afro curly. Or are you going to tell me that the ‘soot and smoke’ in the chimney made his hair curly all of a sudden as well? I believe that in the past  Sinterklaas was racially driven and later somewhere along the line the story was altered a little as to not make it seem that way by others. How many other races have blackfaced themeselves to poke fun at black people? And how many times have I seen black people being portrayed as loyal servants serving under their white masters? Too many times. It gets annoying sometimes to see these sorts of things over and over again.

However, I am not going to hate on any culture and its tradition that has been around for centuries just because I do not agree with it. It is not doing harm to anyone, so what do I care? What I CAN control is my own actions and my participation. Anyway, what do you think?

To read up more about Sinterklaas you can go here.

 

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Author: Angie's Inspiration

My name is Angie Ignacio, I currently live in The Netherlands but I am originally from a very small five (5) square mile island in the Dutch Caribbean called Saba. I enjoy learning new things, meeting new people, dancing, singing, watching anime and reading manga comics. I also enjoy listening to Asian (Japanese, Korean and sometimes Chinese) music. I am trying to learn the Japanese language since I am such a big fan of Japan. I am also a published author of two books a poetry book called I'm Only Human and children's picture book called Baby Toucan.

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