Several people Including the head of radical nationalist group Pegida were arrested in Apeldoorn at the national arrival of Sinterklaas, the winter holiday folklore character who brings gifts to children. Police say that most of those arrested were protestors who refused orders to move to a cordoned off area for demonstrations.
The bag of gifts Sinterklaas brings to your door will cost the holy man 2.6 percent more this year than it did last year, according to calculations by ING Economic Bureau. The price of most traditional Sinterklaas gifts increased over the past year, at least partly due to the increase in the low VAT rate, NU.nl reports.
Sweets and chocolate letters are 3.3 percent and 5 percent more expensive respectively. Toys saw a price increase of 1.5 percent. Books and fragrances now cost 3.3 percent more. The only cheaper gift is jewelry, 1.2 percent cheaper than last year.
The Public Prosecution service is going to prosecute 23 people for criminal offenses around the Facebook live stream of Sinterklaas' national arrival in Amstelveen last year. They suspects are accused of threats, incitement and discrimination and will soon receive their summons, NOS reports.
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.
Apeldoorn is taking various security measures, ranging from access gates to special rules of conduct, to make sure that Sinterklaas' national arrival party on Saturday is safe and pleasant, Hart van Nederland reports.
In the night from Friday to Saturday, the municipality will place access gates at 14 locations in the city center. Everyone who attends the celebration must pass through one of these gates, where there will be random checks.
A 49-year-old man from The Hague was arrested on Monday after publishing a social media post in which he threatened to attack activists with a bomb by blowing himself up as a way of shutting down what he called the "anti-Zwarte Piet movement." He emphasized in the message on Facebook that he "is not joking," and said he wanted to carry out the attack to defend the Sinterklaas tradition as it has been celebrated "for 100 years."
The supervisory board of the National Union of Journalists, a leading journalism labour union in the United Kingdom, passed a motion unanimously late last week that encourages reporters and editors covering the Zwarte Piet character in the Dutch Sinterklaas celebration to do so in a non-discriminatory way. Journalists were reminded of the union's Race Reporting Guidelines, which states that publications should not "originate material which encourages discrimination on the grounds of race or colour".
Activists seek personal protection: Protest organization Kick Out Zwarte Piet has scrapped its public schedule after a violent attack on its activists in Den Haag, wrote Nu.nl, and a threat of rioting at the group's planned roundtable discussion in Hengelo. The Hengelo event set for Monday was cancelled by city politicians at the last minute, according to Tubantia.
Five people were arrested in Den Haag on Friday night, accused of attempted arson and a violent assault against anti-Zwarte Piet activists meeting there, police said. Dozens of people were gathered in the former school building to discuss their activism against the use of blackface and racist caricatures in the Netherlands, when dozens more tried to storm the facility.
The national Sinterklaas arrival party in Apeldoorn can happen without any blackface Zwarte Piet characters, according to the court in Arnhem. The court ruled against a lawsuit demanding that the municipality of Apeldoorn revoke the permit for the party because Sinterklaas will only be accompanied by so-called Chimney Pieten - Piet characters with soot marks on their faces instead of blackface makeup, NOS reports.
From next year Eindhoven will follow the line of the Sinterklaasjournaal and drop blackface Zwarte Pieten from its arrival party, the municipality and Stichting Sint-Nicolaas, the foundation responsible for organizing the Sinterklaas arrival party, announced on Monday. But this year there will still be blackface Zwarte Pieten among the crowd of other-color Pieten at the party, Eindhovens Dagblad reports.
The Arnhem-Leeuwarden court of appeal on Thursday convicted 15 pro-Zwarte Piet protesters for their role in blocking the A7 highway to prevent two buses of anti-Zwarte Piet protesters from reaching the national Sinterklaas arrival in Dokkum in November 2017. The court did, however, lower their sentences to 90 hours of community service.
Action group Kick Out Zwarte Piet is planning to protest in twelve different cities in November against the use of blackface makeup and costuming often adorned by white actors portraying Sinterklaas's helper. The activists consider Zwarte Piet in his traditional form a racist stereotype. On Thursday there were protests in Apeldoorn and Deventer calling for Zwarte Piet to remain in the blackface costume seen mainly over the last hundred years, and which some say is adhering to Dutch tradition.
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.
Far-right, anti-Islam group Pegida is calling on people to come to the national Sinterklaas arrival this year dressed as blackface Zwarte Piet. "We want to turn it into a traditional, beautiful children's party again", Pegida leader Edwin Wagensveld, dressed in a Sinterklaas costume, said in a video on Facebook.
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.
The Ministry of Social Affairs is organizing a meeting for municipalities to discuss how they can tackle polarization on sensitive topics like blackface Sinterklaas character Zwarte Piet and the construction of wind farms in the transition to green energy. At the meeting on Wednesday, municipalities can exchange experiences and tactics on how they deal with tensions between different groups, a spokesperson for the Ministry said to RTL Nieuws.
People in the Netherlands largely agree about what it means to be Dutch, valuing the same traditions and symbols regardless of origin, age or level of education. Dutch also agree on what they consider to be the biggest threats to the Dutch identity - polarization and Islam, the social and cultural planning office SCP found in a two year long study into the Dutch identity titled Dekend aan Nederland.
Sinterklaas will make his national arrival to the Netherlands in Apeldoorn this year, NTR and Apeldoorn mayor Petra van Wingerden-Boers announced on Friday.
The national arrival will happen on Saturday, November 16th. Sinterklaasjournaal, the kids' show that follows Sinterklaas' travels to the Netherlands, will start on Monday, November 11th.
In the run-up to Pakjesavond, PostNL processed a record number of around 12 million parcels in its distribution centers. Last year just under 10 million parcels were processed between Black Friday and December 4th, NU.nl reports.
According to PostNL, this figure was higher than expected, thanks to the increasing popularity of doing Sinterklaas shopping online. Black Friday and Cyber Monday were also busier than ever. The Dutch postal service is preparing for a similarly busy Christmas period.
PostNL was flooded with complaints in the run-up to Pakjesavond on Tuesday. Hundreds of customers were worried that their Sinterklaas gifts would not arrive on time, AD reports.
The fact that Sinterklaas is increasingly buying his gifts online has its disadvantages. Online shops, sorting centers, and package deliverers were overflowing with packages this past week, according to the newspaper.
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.
Several parties in the lower house of Dutch parliament voiced strong criticism on Prime Minister Mark Rutte's response to disturbances around various Sinterklaas celebrations in the Netherlands over the weekend. The Prime Minister's call for no demonstrations in the three weeks that Sinterklaas is in the Netherlands in particular led to bewilderment from the D66, GroenLinks, SP, PvdA, ChristenUnie, PvdD and DENK, among others, NU.nl reports.
After a weekend that saw anti-Zwarte Piet demonstrators attacked by threats, racist epithets, and with eggs and beer cans hurled at them, the activists of Kick Out Zwarte Piet said they are disappointed in city governance in the Netherlands. Protestors were physically and verbally assaulted during the Sinterklaas arrival events in Eindhoven, Groningen, and Leeuwarden, while threats of violence forced the cancellation of a protest in Nijmegen.