Happy Belated St. Nicholas!

For those of you who don’t know: where I’m from Christmas only comes in second. Number one on the list of December holidays and precedent to your Santa Claus (may I remind you, Mrs. Mean UN Woman)  is St. Nicholas, whose presence we celebrate on the fifth of December (or on the sixth in Germany and Belgium). He looks similar to Santa Claus, with a red outfit and all, but rides a white horse instead of a reindeer-pulled sleigh. His elves are much taller than santa’s and black, because they crawl through chimneys to bring presents to little kids. We celebrate with lots of nice little treats, singing and poems. The food is really my prefered part, as in any festive event. 

Currently all Dutch media, politics and even the UN occupy themselves with the question whether St. Nicholas and Black Peter are racist because some bored nitwits, that clearly have racist minds themselves for noticing, link the white man with black helpers to slavery and therefore accuse all those little five-year-olds and their parents of being racist for celebrating. 

Anyways, enough for politics. I’ve never been much of a St. Nicholas fan and always liked Santa Claus better. Maybe because my mom, who was not Dutch, didn’t really understand what to do and we didn’t celebrate it that much. 

Still I wanted to wish you all a happy belated St. Nicholas! And tell me? Is this racist? 




P.S.: I am really lazy and in a hurry so I linked some articles to help you gain a better understanding of this Dutch tradition. 



4 thoughts on “Happy Belated St. Nicholas!

  1. I guess I’m one of the very few Dutch people who can see the link to racism? I surely understand the celebratory factor in St Nicholas for children etc but if black Peter is black from soot why does he have to have black curly hair, big earrings and big lips? Can’t he (or she) not be a blonde blue eyed helper with soot stripes on their faces….

    Maybe it’s time to change the look of black Peter into something else than a fully facepainted somewhat stereotype and continue focussing on the children’s festivities after that.

    1. Historically of course, there is definitely a racist link to be found. But I wrote this post based on the assumption kids feel the way six-year-old me did. My mom told me they were white people, black from soot. My six-year old mind only wondered what they’d look like after bathing. Why they were all curly haired and wore red lipstick didn’t occur to six-year old me nor did I think they’d look like my dark-skinned friend. After all it is about children more than about adults.

      I’m not sure how I’d feel about this topic if my skin color were different, but I guess there’d be no difference.

      Changing Black Peter’s looks would, in my opinion, emphasize that there is a difference to be made between ethnicities and it would somehow be reversed racism similar to that in the US, or in South Africa after the apartheid. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reverse_racism)

      Whereas, if we leave kids to believe they’re black from soot and that their skin colors are irrelevant, there would be no racism as no distinction would be made. To be truly devoid from racism one must not think about difference in skin colors I guess. Unless of course they truly matter, for instance in modeling where appearance is relevant.

      I struggled finding the words to express how I feel, but I hope I made my point in an understandable way.

      Also, reading back my post last night, I realized I was pretty harsh. Please don’t be offended. I’m happy to have two different opinions represented on my blog, since most of my readers are not Dutch. Topics are easier to understand if you hear both sides :).

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