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Black Peter in Holland & Belgium

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posted on Nov, 16 2014 @ 11:05 AM
a reply to: masqua

When I heard about the incidents in Gouda on the Belgian radio I couldn't stop laughing. Man, this is totally surreal once again.
It's interesting to notice that here as well in Belgium, the question was asked to our national 'center for equality of chances' if the zwartepiet was actually considered as racist or not.
And it was deemed OK here in Belgium.
Seriously guys, like it or not, this a Saint of the Roman Catholic church, I know the Netherlands are more protestant than catholic but ... I wouldn't be surprised in the bigotery of some could manifest itself in this way.

And the debate is going on since months now if I remeber well.
With surreal arguments like : 'Yes but Zwartepiet is black because he has to crawl through the chimney ...".
Santa should pay attention, he may well face child labor charges anytime soon because of his elves workers.

Great thread, I was thinking about doing one myself.

edit on 16-11-2014 by theultimatebelgianjoke because: Spelling

posted on Nov, 16 2014 @ 12:38 PM
Video of the protest :

Source :

posted on Nov, 16 2014 @ 03:53 PM

originally posted by: masqua
I grew up with Black Peters:
...and I thought you were 'Nish.

posted on Nov, 16 2014 @ 06:19 PM
a reply to: JohnnyCanuck

My father, a Canadian soldier, was from Winnipeg. The end of WWII and the resulting liberation of Holland was cause for much celebration. He was indeed my most favoured Saint Nicholas.

posted on Nov, 16 2014 @ 06:24 PM
the PC baloney bandwagon gains speed by the day. everything is offensive and/or racist nowadays.

posted on Nov, 17 2014 @ 06:29 AM
a reply to: masqua

Well the good side of it is that apart from two cities where problems occured during his arrival, the rest of the Netherlands enjoyed a trouble free arrival of Saint Nicolas and Black Pete.
Of course this has nothing to do with slavery or racism, only for those who do not educate themselves.

It seems to be the era of stupidity in which skin color, black and white, white supremacy is deemed alive in the Netherlands because of Saint Nicolas.
This because Black Pete is off course black and the helper of a white Saint Nicolas.
It is superficial, any attempt to have a decent conversation about it is denied, mostly driven by public channels and their internet channels who claim it is racism and slavery.
What does it do? it drives a wig between the people, they are forced to take a stand in this discussion because they are said to be promoting and keeping slavery and racism alive by this germanic tradition, those against it say this is a white people's celebration.
This feeds anger and divides people, to say it bluntly, by doing this, they create a ground for discrimination and racism.
It is not a white people's celebration, it is a celebration for everyone, no matter the color, believe, or where people come from.

The name of the demon is Krampus, but the real origin of the black color is not Krampus, the ravens of Wodan were black, he got them when he sacrificed one eye to Mimir so he was allowed to drink from the well of wisdom.
The ravens listen whyle they fly through the worlds, and when they return to Wodan, they whisper the news from the worlds to him.
Black Pete listens at the chimney if the kids have been good.
Wodan obtained the wisdom of the runes, during this celebration, we give chocolate letters.

posted on Nov, 17 2014 @ 10:07 AM
a reply to: earthling42

Thanks for that really well written post and one that I much agree with on the main point that it is not 'just a white man's celebration. I also thank you for the reiteration of the much older traditions related to Krampus and Woden's Ravens, which show that the roots of Swarte Pete go very deep indeed.

However, I also understand that the controversy over 'blackface' have quite a history itself and, although I seldom like to use Wiki for a source, I think I will for once. Their page on blackface is quite impressive actually and, further down, feature Swarte Pete among many other examples. Here's the link:

So, it seems to me that this issue we're talking about fits into a much larger picture than just St Nick in Belgium and the Netherlands.

posted on Nov, 17 2014 @ 01:45 PM
a reply to: masqua

But they are quite different from each other, separation of human races based on their skin color is what happened in America.
The history of blackface is that white people in America made fun of negroes by imitating and sing like a negro with a black painted face except around their lips in order to show they were white.

The only thing they have in common is that both, Black Pete and blackface are white people who painted their face black whereas also negroes paint their face black to play the role of Black Pete when Saint Nicolas comes to Holland or in Curacao where it is also celebrated every year.

posted on Nov, 17 2014 @ 02:53 PM
a reply to: earthling42

Yes… admittedly America was and still remains rife with instances of ridiculing any culture whose skin colour is not white. Latinos, Native Americans (both North and South), Semitic (etc.) do receive a certain amount of ridicule, but it's not all connected to the racially motivated intentions of the KKK. Even black comics today ridicule black culture routinely on the world’s stages. Nothing quite like good humour to mend racial rifts.

In theatre productions, blackface was pretty common, Othello being the most recognizable in the late 1800’s, but in other productions actually going back to 1604 in England. That’s 4 centuries of blackface on stage.

Then, there’s also the advent of Upton's ‘Golliwog’ and the wide ‘Darky” effect it had. The production of comic books, toys and lots of other gadgets profited from the disparaging depiction of negroid features.

Furthermore, in the link I provided, are blackface instances in Mexico, South Africa, Spain, Japan and Australia (among others). It seems to me to have been a trend, dating back several centuries, in cultures worldwide and much of it decidedly connected to the idea of dehumanizing black people and persisting in the arts long after slavery was abolished in the ‘civilized world’. That kind of thing is the opposite of humour mending social divides.

Keep in mind my own acceptance of the role Swarte Piet held in the Christmas pageant during childhood. There I am, in the photo of the opening post, smiling widely while sitting on Sinterklaas’s knee as 3 people in blackface look out, not without some suggestion of a threat, at the camera. I liked them because I tried to be a ‘good boy’ and as a result got a present instead of a lump of coal (let alone trussed, bagged and sent off to an unknown but surely unsavoury future).

Perhaps it might be better if Piet was actually of Moorish or African descent rather than white folk using burnt cork on their faces, but the old connotation of evil remains in their ‘character' as well as does St. Nick’s subjugation of them. I’m not so certain that to play their part would actually please me much.

I’m still torn between standing for or against the tradition of Swarte Piet and nothing I’ve read so far has convinced me to either side. On the larger and much longer history of blackface in literature and stage, I do believe it’s just as well that it has become a thing of the recent past. There are notable actors, for instance, that can correctly fill such roles and the Golliwog trends (et al) can, as far as I’m concerned, stay buried in a much less enlightened past.
edit on 17/11/14 by masqua because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 17 2014 @ 03:44 PM

originally posted by: masqua
Even black comics today ridicule black culture routinely on the world’s stages. Nothing quite like good humour to mend racial rifts.
Well, it seems time to trot out this old nugget. The link provided appears to be the only current source...
White Like Me

posted on Nov, 17 2014 @ 05:25 PM
a reply to: JohnnyCanuck

Very funny SNL skit. Missed it somehow, so it was good to see.

posted on Nov, 17 2014 @ 06:25 PM
a reply to: masqua

We do too, despite the fact that it has nothing to do with racism or slavery, Black Pete has got new Colleagues like Purple Pete and Blue or Yellow Pete, even white Clown Pete and a Green Pete with candy without gluten.

But people against Black Pete were unsatisfied with this solution and chose to protest against Saint Nicolas and Black Pete while they arrived at Gouda harbour where the children were awaiting the arrival.
Shouting at children that he does not exists, how low can one go

The sad part is that it is only a small group who is against Black Pete, but active in Amsterdam and The Hague politics and public television.
We take pride in our country our tradition/culture and our democracy in which also the minority has a voice, so a change has been made but sadly the protest continues.

And yes i do agree with you that we should be wary of racism in a tradition, but on the other hand, if even negroes have enjoyed celebrating Saint Nicolas at the antilles for many years without any notion of racism or connecting it to slavery, than i really wonder where this dissatisfaction and anger comes from.

Partly i would say, because the background of the tradition is not very well known and therefore it becomes offending as if black is still subordinate to white, but that time is fortunately long gone.
Be it America or Canada or Europe, people are treated equally to my knowledge and have the same rights and chances.
Sadly we cannot say that for the middle eastern part of the world and Afrika yet because slavery still exists in that region.
The other part can only be aimed against white people, dispite the change they continue to protest while we also have shared the backround of black paint.
Not only the ravens of Woden, but also the army of the deads (deceased people from the underworld) were people who painted themselves black during the wild hunt.
It is the dark period of the year which start at Samhain and is the time of Holda, Hell, goddes of the underworld.

In Belgium Saint Nicolas is celebrated in the same way, but so far there has been no problem there, the people in Belgium say that this is due to not having political correct people like the Netherlands has.
But let's see how it will go next year, Dyab Abou Jahjah, founder of AEL has started movement X and according to that organisation Black pete offends black people, is a symbol of slavery and racism and thus must be stripped from the tradition.

So yes, a change has been made, we listen, but black is inextricably part of the tradition, not the devilish creature such as krampus which is a creation from christianity.
I would say that the underworld, the hall of Hell is a place to heal, to become whole again, a saint.
that is vastly different from the christian version of hel with fire and a devil.

Could we do more? yes, like give him a black beard and other clothes, but on the other hand, the Black Pete of today is the greatest friend of the children, (white black or yellow, whatever their belief or where they come from) because of the way he is and the way he acts and behaves, so let's not make him into something that scares kids, we should think about that too.

posted on Nov, 17 2014 @ 09:14 PM
a reply to: earthling42

As you say in your signature line, giving attention to something helps it grow. This is true but it applies to both the positive and the negative equally. That the media pays attention to this issue does increase global awareness of it. It grows. Even merely posting this thread also helps in widening the conflict and statements may be read by hundreds, perhaps even thousands who have never heard of 'Black Petes' before now.

I'm personally confused and conflicted, that's for certain, because these protests don't jibe with my idea of what the country of my birth is was all about. but then Holland in 1951 was different too. Not wholesome or perfect by far, but seemingly a lot less complicated than the recent fuss in Gouda presents.

Societies change, as do most old traditions eventually. Maybe, in the following years an amenable solution will come about.
edit on 17/11/14 by masqua because: grammar

posted on Nov, 12 2016 @ 07:45 AM
Just bumping this topic because it's the time of year in my country again and there are now more protests. In the city the Saint Nicholas boat entered the country, locals declared a kind of martial law. A few of the black peters were not totally black, but had soot smears instead (because they are supposed to climb down chimneys). One person was arrested in the crowd, wearing a camouflage suit, not having children with him and police found machetes in his bags. But other than that there were only protesters, or should have been were they not banned from the event. Which means the right to protest is worthless and subject to interpretation. The protesters did not cause any trouble, were not dangerous yet they were stopped by police forces and denied their right to protest peacefully. However emotions do tend to run high with Saint Nicholas mostly because the majority grew up with the event and for them it was all good.

I myself don't like the event. I remember as a child feeling so stupid believing there actually was a good guy handing out presents just for being nice. I don't have any kids but want to and if I do I don't want to lie to them. I was like most oblivious to the idea it was a rascist event, but I did find a boat full of males with one leader a bit like a dictator and not really fair, one guy who rules supreme and the rest just has to do his bidding. I didn't know/understand the whole slavery historic story at the time as a child. Even when I learned about it during history class, it was presented with a tone of "These people were less civilized and developed than medieval Europeans, so they were getting a better deal by living with them and getting educated even if it meant they weren't exactly free". The Dutch still have a long way to go.

A movie about the event (Dutch, ofcourse):
edit on 12-11-2016 by johnnyjoe1979 because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 13 2016 @ 05:16 AM
I don't beleive this tradition is racist because it has it's origin in pagan traditions.

In the 70s and 80s there was a thing called 'pace-egging' where I'm from in the North of England. The 'pace' bit refers to the latin for easter and it was an easter tradition. Basically it's a sort of mystery play involving St George, who kills a dragon, a doctor and a Turkish man (as far as I remember). This play was ( and still is) taken around the pubs and villages and is acted out and accompanied by musicians, I think the players do a bit of a dance at the end like morris dancers. I remember this because my dad was one of the musicians that took part.

The thing is EVERYONE had a black face, all the actors (not just the Turk as you might think) and the musicians. Later in life I was interested in Paganism. I understood that dressing up and changing your appearence often with masks is known as 'mumming' or 'guising'. Basically you take on some sort of other persona for whatever / festival night of the year, and disguise your self as that persona or entity. It is not about looking like African people, it's about becoming something else.

Hundreds of years ago and from what a relative told me, up until the 1930s ordinary people were dirt poor. They had few posessions, no shoes etc. So if they were going to disguise themselves they used what was in plentiful supply and free - coal dust or even dirt.

In some places in Europe people traditionally engage in guising and mischief around Halloween and the winter solstice. If you disguised yourself you could probably get away with more mischief towards your neighbours than undisguised. The trickster god Loki in Norse mythology is linked to this sort of thing. I suspect that 'Black Peter' has evolved from these traditions. I think the problem is the appearence that was popularised in Victorian times which does appear to be a charicature of African features and has become ingrained in the Black Peter tradition.
edit on 13-11-2016 by DrHammondStoat because: (no reason given)

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