|Sinterklaas: the children’s December celebration is
under fire in the Netherlands
The best way to rile a Dutch person is to ask them why they need two Santa Clauses and suggest they scrap one, namely the white bearded one with those very questionable black helpers who arrives in the country on a boat from Spain in November. And to be honest I can understand why they are pretty pissed off at the moment.
My disbelief at what is currently hitting the news does not stem from the fact that there is once again a huge debate about Zwarte Piet, racism and slavery. The issue has been on the table for many years, there is open discussion in Dutch society about Zwarte Piet and questions have been raised many times over about whether the appearance should be altered, including from prominent Dutch figures. Traditions, in general, move with the times, things change and Zwarte Piet, I’m sure, will continue to change too.
What actually riles me about the discussion this year is that it is spearheaded by someone who seems to have very little understanding of the Dutch and what the celebration of Sinterklaas is about. What riles me is the clumsy manner that a nation is told that their tradition is inferior to the Coca-Cola Santa that dominates the Christmas festivities of other countries, and that they should scrap their celebration on the 5th December. Verene Shepherd (UN representative) asked why the Netherlands needs two Santa Clauses. This is what pisses me off. Such a comment can only be made by somebody who is completely ignorant to the Dutch tradition of Sinterklaas, somebody who has not yet done their homework.