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It's Zwarte Piet time again! – Red Eye Gravy
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It's Zwarte Piet time again!

Zwarte Piet

Zwarte Piet

Netherlands and Flanders Celebrate the Season with BlackFace.

December 6th marks the arrival of Zwarte Piet (“Black Pete”) in the Netherlands.

"Stupid Flanders"

"Stupid Flanders"

That’s right, the former slave(s) of Sinterklass are here to mark the beginning of Christmas.
This tradition takes place in the Netherlands and Flanders (Northern Belgium). Dating back to the 1850’s, Zwarte Piet is both the handyman and bad sidekick of Santa. If you’re good, Santa gives you a gift. If you’re bad, Zwarte Piet hits you with a switch and makes fun of you.

You might run into a couple Piets, but according to some, they travel in groups of 6 to 8. David Sedaris relates a story about his experience here:  Jefferson Tucker, this one is for you.

Is Piet a racist symbol from days gone by?

There’s always somebody upset when they hear about a black face former slave of Santa. And rightfully so. Black Pete technically first appeared in 1845, but the tradition goes back to the good guy, Santa, hanging out with the bad guy, the devil. Historical fiction showed the devil as being dark or black, so Santa’s “helper” and alter ego became a black slave. They’ve tried to whitewash the issue by saying he was in black-face because he went down the chimneys; but that makes about as much sense as the Sambo’s Restaurant in Santa Barbara.

In parts of Boston, this will get you shot.

In parts of Boston, this will get you shot.

Oh, and the best part of the Dutch tradition: Santa basically vacations in Southern Spain. No North Pole. So Sinterklass, or the Dutch Santa, is basically like Sammy Hagar, vacationing in Europe’s version of Cabo San Lucas, getting fat, tan and drunk. Mazel Tov.

Modern Day Sinterklass and Zwarte Piet practicing for Dec. 6th

Modern Day Sinterklass and Zwarte Piet practicing for Dec. 6th

Posted in Holidays.

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