NTR's Sinterklaasjournaal wil not feature any multicolored Piet characters this year, media director Willemijn Francissen said to the Telegraaf. Exactly what Sinterklaas' controversial helpers will look like is unclear. All she would say about that is "a kind of fifty shades of gray". So it seems that traditional blackface Zwarte Piet may also not make an appearance.
Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb was well within his rights when he banned a demonstration against blackface Zwarte Piet in the city in November last year, the municipality's independent complaints committee ruled, RTV Rijnmond reports.
Sinterklaas' national arrival will be in the Friesland city of Dokkum this year. The saint and his entourage is scheduled to arrive on Saturday, November 18th, RTL Nieuws reports.
Dokkum falls under the municipality of Dongeradeel. Mayor Marga Waanders is delighted that Sinterklaas chose Dokkum for his arrival. "Fantastic news for Dokkum and the region Noordoost Fryslân", she said to the broadcaster. "We will warmly welcome Sinterklaas!"
As usual NTR will follow Sinterklaas and his arrival on the Sinterklaasjournaal with presenter Dieuwertje Blok.
The committee responsible for organizing Sinterklaas' arrival in Amstelveen quit, the college of mayor and aldermen wrote to the Amstelveen municipality. The committee refuses to accept any form of Zwarte Piet other than the traditional blackface one, and decided to rather step down than be forced into it, Het Parool reports.
The PVV's legislative proposal to make municipalities only participate in Sinterklaas events in which Zwarte Piet is wearing blackface makeup, could count on almost no support from both the lower house of Dutch parliament and the Dutch government today. Most parties in parliament were against the law and Minister Ronald Plasterk of Home Affairs stated that the bill goes against the Dutch constitution.
The lower house of Dutch parliament is discussing a PVV legislative proposal today that wants to ensure that Zwarte Piet keeps his blackface makeup. According to initiator Martin Bosma, "for years there's been a war against Zwarte Piet" and that has to stop, the Telegraaf reports.
Dutch soldiers on a United Nations mission in Mali got a visit from Sinterklaas and two Zwarte Piets in their traditional blackface makeup on Monday, according to a photo the Ministry of Defense posted on Twitter.
Ravenna Bohmer and her family's Sinterklaas celebration ended in a nasty surprise on Sunday evening - their bag of gifts was stolen from their porch just before Sinterklaas arrived to hand it out, RTL Nieuws reports.
Ravenna hired a Sinterklaas and a Piet at a community center to hand out the gifts on Sunday. They were set to arrive at 6:15 p.m., so at 6:10 p.m. she put the bag of gifts on the porch. "We thought we could, because the living room is next to the front door. So if something happened, we would notice, and the gifts were outside for only a moment"
A computer error at PostNL on Monday resulted in thousands of packages being delayed in delivery. This means that thousands of Sinterklaas gifts may not make it to their recipients on time, the Telegraaf reports.
"We are working with man and might to deliver as many packages as possible through the evening delivery", a spokesperson for PostNL said to the Telegraaf after confirming the computer error.
Internal sources told the newspaper that hundreds of thousands of packages are affected by the delays, but the spokesperson denied this.
After a very cold night, Sinterklaas is celebrating his birthday in cold, but sunny weather across the Netherlands on Monday. During the night temperatures dropped to between -3 along the western coast to -8.8 degrees in Leeuwarden. Maximum temperatures will be around 2 degrees, according to Weeronline.
Traffic information service VID is expecting a tough evening rush hour in the Netherlands today due to the cold weather and people excited to get home for the Sinterklaas celebration .The VID expects the first traffic jam to hit around 3:30 p.m., about an hour earlier than usual, the Gelderlander reports.
Today Sinterklaas is visiting schools across the Netherlands in celebration of his birthday. And as tradition dictates, he will be accompanied by his Pieten. What exactly these Pieten will look like differs widely by region, municipality and schools and seems to be mostly determined by what neighborhood the school is located in, NOS reports after speaking with some 30 school boards, covering about a thousand primary schools across the country.
Two thirds of parents whose kids still believe in Sinterklaas say their kids are mostly unaffected by the ongoing debate surrounding blackface Zwarte Piet, according to a survey by I&O Research among 3 thousand adult Dutch, AD reports.
Sinterklaas spent nearly 1.3 billion euros shopping online for gifts this year. That is an increase of 35 percent compared to the online spending around the Sinterklaas celebrations last year, according to a study by PostNL and Thuiswinkel.org, AD reports
"Between 1 November and 5 December, the average weekly turnover is over 250 million euros", according to the researchers. "For the total Sinterklaas period the turnover comes down to 1.26 billion euros. That means an increase of 35 percent compared to the only sales of 933 million euros in the same period in 2015".
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.
Sinterklaas season, and its accompanying increase in online shopping in the Netherlands, is leading to a very busy week for PostNL. The Dutch postal service expects to deliver a record number of over 5 million parcels during the Sinterklaas celebrations, ANP reports.
"Our sorting centers are running at full power across the country", Gerrit Mastenbroek, director of the parcel division of PostNL, said to the broadcaster on Tuesday. "Next week there will be 3,800 delivery drivers on the road, that is 600 more than a normal delivery day."
Right-wing grop Pegida decided to protest against Amsterdam's decision not to allow blackface makeup at its Sinterklaas party by parading Zwarte Pieten in blackface makeup through some of Amsterdam's most ethnically diverse neigborhoods.
The municipality of Geleen approved a protest against blackface Zwarte Piet at the Sinterklaas party in the center of the city on Saturday. This follows a meeting with the initiators of the protest on Thursday, 1Limburg reports.
The activists plan a silent protest at Sinterklaas' arrival in the city on Saturday. They hope to stand close to the Saint's podium. A spokesperson for the municipality told L1 that a spot has been designated for the protesters, but the location will not be announced yet. According to the spokesperson, it is a small group of protesters.
Protest group Kick Out Zwarte Piet is plainning at least three more protests against blackface Zwarte Piet in the coming weeks, the organization announced on Thursday, ANP reports.
The group will hold "peaceful protests" at Sinterklaas' arrival in Leiden on November 19th, in Utrecht on November 26th and Rotterdam on November 207th.
A massive 198 people were arrested in Rotterdam on Saturday for wanting to protest against controversial character Zwarte Piet. Among them were GroenLinks councilor Simion Blom, lawyer Michiel Pestman and activist Jerry Afriyie.
Rotterdam police arrested two men on Friday morning after they exchanged heated messages back and forth on social media. One person was in favor of the winter mythical character, Zwarte Piet, remaining in blackface, while the other was opposed to the character, police said.
Only the 57-year-old man from Amsterdam was accused of making a threat. Both he and a 26-year-old from Utrecht are alleged of encouraging public disorder and criminal behavior.
A massive 1,075,000 people tuned in to NTR to watch the first episode of Sinterklaasjournaal on Wednesday night. According to rating foundation KijkOnderzoek, Sinterklaasjournaal was the 10th most watched program of the evening, the Telegraaf reports.
There was much interest in the runup to the first episode. Many schools and foundations were waiting to see what Sinterklaasjournaal did with the appearance of Zwarte Piet before making a decision themselves. The first episode featured both a white- and blackface Piet.
Dutch consumers will spend somewhat less on Sinterklaas presents this year, according to a survey Q&A did among over 1,500 Dutch.
According to the firm, this does not mean that the Sinterklaas celebration is becoming less popular. The group of people buying gifts for the celebration even became slightly larger. Nevertheless, Q&A expects that the total amount spent on Sinterklaas gifts will decline by about 2 percent.
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.