Saturday, December 06, 2008

It's Kitschmas - Door 6

I wonder what treat lies behind door 6....

.....ah its Zwarte Piet the secret Dutch Christmas shame.

Ten years ago I was living in a Vegan Communist Straight Edge Squat in the south of Holland and my fellow squatters were very pro-active and wiling to create "actions" against any perceived injustices. Once when a Pychobilly band played and had pin-up girl back drops the in-house feminist group invaded the stage and protested until the offending items were removed.
Then Christmas came and on dutch TV they have Sinterklaas arriving in his ship on the news and I see the old white guy dressed like a bishop and i ask "who's that?", and I'm told "Sinterklaas, he's like Santa Claus but he leaves presents on the 6th of December".
"And the guy's all blacked up?"
"Oh that's Zwarte Piet, Black Peter he's Sinterklaas helper, he peeps through the windows to see if your good and then reports back to Sinterklaas".
"And the're white guys, blacked up?"
"Yes it is a great honour"
"But they are blacked up?"
"It is tradition, it is not racist".
"We used to have Black and White Minstrals in Britain"
"Yes but those are racist"
"You don't really spread the whole Zwarte Piet bit, about dutch Christmases do you?"
"Yes, But its tradition".

Since Zwarte Piet has only been around since 1850 and only then created to replace the Krampus, so it funny to think how the sanitized part of the dutch Christmas myth has become more offensive than the original.

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