|Sinterklaas: the children's December celebration is |
under fire in the Netherlands
My disbelief at what is currently hitting the news does not stem from the fact that there is once again a huge debate about Zwarte Piet, racism and slavery. The issue has been on the table for many years, there is open discussion in Dutch society about Zwarte Piet and questions have been raised many times over about whether the appearance should be altered, including from prominent Dutch figures. Traditions, in general, move with the times, things change and Zwarte Piet, I'm sure, will continue to change too.
What actually riles me about the discussion this year is that it is spearheaded by someone who seems to have very little understanding of the Dutch and what the celebration of Sinterklaas is about. What riles me is the clumsy manner that a nation is told that their tradition is inferior to the Coca-Cola Santa that dominates the Christmas festivities of other countries, and that they should scrap their celebration on the 5th December. Verene Shepherd (UN representative) asked why the Netherlands needs two Santa Clauses. This is what pisses me off. Such a comment can only be made by somebody who is completely ignorant to the Dutch tradition of Sinterklaas, somebody who has not yet done their homework.
"Shepherd calls on prime Minister Mark Rutte to put an end to Sinterklaas. The prime minister has the power to influence the group that maintains this habit. If the Dutch government recognizes the Sinterklaas tradition is outdated, they should instruct the groups organizing it, to stop, according to Shepherd. And what is wrong with one Sinterklaas? Why does The Netherlands have two? Shepherd wondered in the program, referring to Santa Claus." - NL Times
The reality is that the Netherlands does not have two Santa Clauses. It has one Sinterklaas. I am yet to meet a Dutch family that has Santa Claus or Father Christmas visit them on the 25 December. Any Santa Claus figure that makes an appearance at Christmas time is purely commercial and is in no way a Dutch tradition. The Santa Claus that countries such as Britain and America know and love is known as the Coca-Cola Santa here.
If the Dutch weren't already pissed off about being accused of being racist, the suggestion that they should stick with the Coca-Cola Santa Claus and do away with their own tradition certainly did the trick. Nothing like attacking a folk to get them heading to a Facebook page to express themselves at a rate of 100 likes per second….
*The title of this blog post is
stolen from inspired by The Head of the Heard's post How to Piss off a Brazilian.