The Utrecht district of Zuilen decided to cancel its Sinterklaas arrival party, scheduled for Saturday. The foundation in charge of organizing the party received serious threats because it decided to switch to so-called Chimney Pieten - Piet characters with soot marks on their faces instead of blackface makeup as the character is traditionally portrayed, Miranda Spies of the Gemeenschap Zuilen foundation said to AD.
The vast majority of Dutch municipalities are staying out of the discussion around the appearance of Zwarte Piet at the Sinterklaas arrival parties in their cities. Only a small number set conditions regarding the controversial character in the Sinterklaas tradition, NOS reports after speaking to the 120 largest municipalities in the Netherlands, three quarters of which responded to the broadcaster's questions.
A number of sponsors are withdrawing from the Sinterklaas arrival event in The Hague this year after they received a letter from anti-racism action group Kick Out Zwarte Piet. The sponsors found the letter threatening, EenVandaag reports.
The Sinterklaas party in The Hague this year will include a mixture of Zwarte Pieten in full blackface makeup and so-called Chimney Pieten with soot marks on their face.
This year Sinterklaas will only be accompanied by so-called Chimney Pieten at his national arrival in Apeldoorn on November 16th. All of Sinterklaas' helpers will have soot marks on their faces, instead of the traditional blackface makeup, NTR announced on Tuesday, NU.nl reports.
Primary schools in large cities like Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague and the municipalities around them are increasingly using Pieten with soot marks on their faces in the Sinterklaas celebration, rather than the traditional blackface Zwarte Piet, according to a survey of over 580 schools by DUO Education Research & Advice, NU.nl reports.
The first episode of NTR's kids show Sinterklaasjournaal on Monday featured mainly Chimney Pieten with soot marks on their faces. Only one, played by actor Maarten Wansink, had a completely black face, NU.nl reports.
In the first episode, presenter Dieuwertje Blok made first contact with the steamboat, which has to set course to Zaanstad where Sinterklaas will make his national arrival in the Netherlands on Saturday. The boat hasn't departed yet, because Sinterklaas is not yet on board.
Children in Zaanstad see Sinterklaas as a fun family celebration and when it comes to the color of Zwarte Piet, they prefer so-called Chimney Pieten colored black by soot, according to Zaanstad Children's Ombudsman Martien van Does, Het Parool reports.
Van Does spoke to 200 children about Sinterklaas in the run-up to a debate evening on Wednesday about the holy man's national arrival at the Zaanse Schans on November 17th.
The Sinterklaasjournaal will feature only "Chimney Pieten" with soot on their faces this year, broadcaster NTR said in a statement on its website. How black the Pieten's faces will be remains vague. The amount of soot on their faces depends on how often they've gone through the chimney, the broadcaster said.
In the statement NTR addressed a number of questions around Sinterklaas' national arrival in Zaanstad on November 17th, and his controversial helper Zwarte Piet. On the question how the Pieten will look in the popular kids' show, NTR said:
The Onze Wereld primary school in Rotterdam decided to scrap their Sinterklaas' arrival parade this year for "security reasons", school principal Tilly Terheijden said to newspaper AD. Instead Sinterklaas will arrive at the school out of sight of the parents.
The school decided to have Sinterklaas accompanied by so-called Chimney Pieten this year, instead of the traditional blackface Zwarte Pieten after a complaint by a parent. This decision led to a heated discussion among parents at the school, with both pro- and anti-Zwarte Piet groups rearing their heads.
The Sinterklaas arrival committees in the vast majority of Dutch towns and cities decided to keep their Zwarte Pieten traditional with blackface makeup, according to a survey by NOS and regional broadcasters. Only two of the 223 surveyed committees will have no blackface makeup at Sinterklaas' arrival - Amsterdam and Heemstede.
Sinterklaas will be surrounded by only Chimney Pieten during his arrival in Amsterdam this year. While the organizing committee announced earlier this week that 75 percent of the Pieten will be covered in soot instead of traditional makeup, they announced on Friday that not a single Piet will be wearing the blacface makeup when Sinterklaas arrives on November 13th, ANP reports.
At least 75 percent of the Zwarte Piet's in Amsterdam will not be wearing the traditional blacface makeup at Sinterklaas arrival in the city on November 13th, Pam Evenhuis said to NU.nl as spokesperson for the Sinterklaas organizing committee in the Dutch captial.
Broadcaster RTL will not be using blacface makeup on Zwarte Piet this year. The media company decided to from now on only use Pieten with soot marks on their face, RTL said in a statement.
"For one part the image of Zwarte Piet is discriminatory, while others find that Zwarte Piet is an integral part of the tradition", the broadcaster said in a statemetn. "RTL understands both points of view, but also believes that this discussion should not be about what's right, but understanding for each other."
The Hague should follow the lead of kids' show Sinterklaasjournaal when it comes to what Zwarte Piet will look like at Sinterklaas' arrival in the city, Mayor Jozias van Aartsen will advise the organizers of the arrival
A Twente woman received hundreds of threats and insults on social media after pointing out to a Hema store in Nijverdal that they were using the traditional Zwarte Piet, instead of the Chimney Pieten the chain decided on. Some of the responses to her Twitter post include wishes that she is raped, suggestions that she jump in front of a train and hopes that she disappears through the chimney of a crematorium.
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.
Sinterklaas will be accompanied by more so-called Chimney Pieten and fewer traditional Zwarte Pieten at his national arrival in Meppel this year. More of Sinterklaas' helpers will be marked with ash and soot marks on their faces, instead of the traditional black-face makeup. The cities of Amsterdam, Utrecht, The Hague and Maastricht will be following the same trend in the coming years.