Friday, October 31, 2008

Zwarte Piet - A tough Dutch tradition for Americans

Here in Amsterdam, there are two big days for Christmas. The first is December 5th when St. Nicholas (Sinterklaas) comes to Amsterdam by Steamboat from Spain with his helper, Zwarte Piet (Black Pete)to give good children presents. The 2nd is December 24th where families gather for a holiday dinner and open presents.

A skinny Santa from Spain in early December is kind of fun, but the concept of "Black Pete" as Santa's helper makes me uncomfortable. I'm sure my emotions are shaped by our US history with slavery, and I know I'm not in the US right now - but I still can't quite get over my discomfort with this tradition. There's a funny David Sedaris story on the topic called 6-8 Black Men It's worth the read if you've got a few minutes, and summarizes the tradition from an American point of view.

1 comment:

ljc said...

Aaron and I just listened to that David Sedaris bit on iTunes on our drive to PA.... soooo funny. We got to see him in person on Aaron's birthday too. What a funny guy!