Monday, December 05, 2005

St Nicholas and his helpers

When riding with Thomas car through the city we spotted St. Nicolas with his black helper walking by the street. We jumped out of the car and snapped a picture.
On the evening of December 5, Sinterklaas brings presents to every child that has been good in the past year (in practice to all children). Sinterklaas wears a red bishop's dress including a red mitre, rides a white horse (called Amerigo) over the rooftops and is assisted by many mischievous helpers with black faces and colourful Moorish dresses, dating back two centuries. These helpers are called 'Zwarte Pieten' (black Petes). Their blackness was racial, with Pete being an imported African servant of Saint Nicholas since 1850 (though some people say Pete was a slave who, when Sinterklaas bought him his freedom, was so grateful that he stayed to assist him). Today however, the more politically correct explanation that Pete's face is "black from soot" (as Pete has to climb through chimneys to deliver his gifts) is used.

No comments: