Monday, November 14, 2011

Sinterklaas - The Dutch Santa Claus

I didn't realize it until this year but Saint Martin is similar to Thanksgiving because it marks the start of Christmas season. In the Netherlands, December 5th, is the main gift giving day and last weekend Sinterklaas arrived from Spain by boat with his posse of black men known collectively as Black Peter. I guess the Dutch subscribe to the same theory as the French that Africa starts south of the Pyrenees Mountains. There's been an ongoing debate if the tradition is racial insensitive. I have to admit, coming from the states and seeing white people paint their face black, is a bit of a shock. But I understand their coloring is from the ash in chimneys, not the complexion of their skin. Here's a video that explains the tradition much better than I have.

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