Brabant cities sticking to blackface Zwarte Piet

zwarte pieten Hans Pama Flickr

No Chimney Pieten will accompany Sinterklaas during celebrations in Noord-Brabant's largest cities. Seven of the eight cities in the province decided to stick to traditional Zwarte Pieten, with the actor's faces colored by brown, dark brown or black makeup, Omroep Brabant reports.

The discussion about the appearance of Sinterklaas' controversial helper started up again after broadcaster NTR said that only Chimney Pieten will be featured on kids' show Sinterklaasjournaal. This created the impression that there will be no blackface Pieten on the show, or at the national arrival in Zaanstad on November 17th. But a day later a NTR spokesperson clarified that there will be Pieten that are completely black, because they went through the chimney very often.

Omroep Brabant questioned the eight largest cities in Noord-Brabant about their plans for the Sinterklaas celebrations. Seven of them will stick to the blackface Pieten. Only Tilburg has not made a decision yet, according to the broadcaster.

In Helmond, Bergen op Zoom, Den Bosch, Eindhoven and Oss the Pieten will be brown "because of the friendlier appearance". The Sinterklaas committees in these cities attach great importance to tradition, though they have omitted the traditional red lips and gold earrings, according to the broadcaster. "Ten years ago we switched to a brown Piet. Without lipstick and without earrings. We're not deviating from that, so with us no Chimney Pieten or colored Pieten. It is and stays a children's party", Peter van Lieshout of the Oss committee said. 

In Roosendal and Breda the Pieten will be "pitch-black", the Sinterklaas committees said to the broadcaster. "We do not participate in the discussion. We do what the people of Breda want", Ilona Goossens of the Sinterklaas Committee Breda said.