Amsterdam to progressively drop “blackface” Zwarte Piet

Sooty Piet (Picture: Twitter/@Warda_E) chimney piet. (Chimney Piet (Picture: Twitter/@Warda_E))

Half of Sinterklaas' helpers will be so-called Chimney Pieten at the Saint's arrival in Amsterdam this year. And in the coming years, the traditional blackface Zwarte Pieten will progressively make way for more sooty-faced Pieten.

The introduction of Chimney Piet during last year's arrival went very smoothly, and Adriaan Krans, chairman of the Amsterdam arrival committee, does not expect any bigger problems this year.

"It was quite stressful beforehand, but we really only got rave reviews and heard no discord along the roadside", Krans said in an interview with Het Parool. "Chimney Piet is closer to the story that we have been telling our children for generations than the traditional Zwarte Piet. Children accept it effortlessly. That would be my advice to concerned parents: look at how children embrace the Chimney Piet."

The Amsterdam arrival committee expects less fuss surrounding the Pieten this year. They aim to give the festival entirely back to the kids.

Meppel, the national arrival point for the Saint this year, Amsterdam, he Hague, Utrecht and Maastricht that they will steadily be replacing traditional blackface Pieten with sooty-faced Pieten in the coming years. Since then Almere and Lelystad have also adopted this proposal.