One primary school in Utrecht will have Minions helping Sinterklaas this year, instead of Zwarte Piet. After SPO Utrecht, an organization that governs 33 public elementary schools in the city, banned Zwarte Piet due to racism, the schools had to come up with different ways to handle the Sinterklaas celebration this year
The Netherlands has its on version of the American phenomenon Black Friday. But on the Monday just before Sinterklaas, instead of on the Friday after Thanksgiving as the Americans do it.
Sinterklaasjournaal host Dieuwertje Blok thinks that Zwarte Piet's traditional blackface appearance has to be phased out. "The Piet discussion has opened my eyes", she said
Sinterklaas officially arrived in the Netherlands on Saturday, accompanied by his controversial helper, Zwarte Piet. Though the assistants are mythologized as having dark smudges caused by soot, the character more closely resembles minstrels in blackface with nappy-haired wigs, large hoop earrings, big red lips and a buffoonish demeanour.
Most schools in the Netherlands will be keeping Zwarte Piet in his traditional appearance during the Sinterklaas celebrations this year and in the years to come. About 34 percent of respondents find the racism debate surrounding the Sinterklaas helper not a concern for their own organizations, with 32 percent saying they do not find the character discriminatory, a survey of teachers by general education association AOb revealed on Tuesday.
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 appearance of Zwarte Piet will only be adjusted in the city of Rotterdam itself, the rest of the Rotterdam area will be keeping Sinterklaas' helper in his traditional outfit and blackface makeup. Other Dutch municipalities are also sticking to the tradition.
Maastricht schools will be discarding one of Zwarte Piet's characteristic features during the Sinterklaas celebrations this year. The announcement was made by Mosa Lira, the umbrella organization covering primary school education in Maastricht.
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.
In the run-up to the national arrival celebration of Sinterklaas, held this year in Meppel, Drenthe, local mayor Jan Westmaas says he wants to enter into a dialogue with opponents of Zwarte Piet and its blackface look, as well as traditionalists who want to keep the character as is. This year's arrival is scheduled for November 14, but a representative from the municipality would not comment on the image of Zwarte Piet that will be used in this years’ celebrations, reported Nu.nl.
Albert Heijn grocery stores will continue to use the blackface character Zwarte Piet as part of their winter holiday promotions around the Sinterklaas holiday. “We are sincerely bothered that cultural practices around the beloved Sinterklaas parties may be offensive,” parent company Ahold said in a statement.
Zwarte Piet is likely to remain a big part of the annual winter Sinterklaas celebrations outside of the Randstad region covering Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht and Den Haag, the Volkskrant reported on Thursday. Cities like Assen, Groningen, Helmond, Leeuwarden and Maastricht have not yet come to a decision regarding the debated image of Zwarte Piet.
An organization that governs 32 public elementary schools in Utrecht says that Sinterklaas celebrations in the schools will no longer include the maligned blackface character Zwarte Piet. "An important principle of public primary education in Utrecht is that everyone is equal," the organization SPO Utrecht stated on Wednesday.
The managing boards of all the primary schools in The Hague have agreed to adjust the facade of Zwarte Piet and drop discriminatory features of the character. They feel that every child, regardless of color or race, should feel at ease during the Sinterklaas festival.
The Public Prosecutor in Amsterdam has decided not to prosecute the 26-year old man suspected of insulting the King and the Queen during Zwarte Piet demonstrations by saying "fuck the king, fuck the queen and fuck the royal palace," the Public Prosecutor (OM) declared on Thursday. The Prosecution determined the statement was made "within the context of public debate," which means that relevant statements are not punishable.
The steamboat carrying Sinterklaas and his helpers will be arriving in Meppel, Drenthe on November 14th this year. All children from Meppel and surroundings are invited to come welcome the Saint.
Christmas purchases have ensured a significant increase for the weekly sales of online stores. In the three weeks before Christmas sales for online stores increased by 38 percent, compared to an average weekly turnover.
Over four thousand needy children who would have otherwise gotten no gifts this winter holiday, received gifts from the Sinterklaasbank this week. Elisa Nuij, founder of the Sinterklaasbank, says the amount of families who needed the help of her organization this year has grown considerably, up from 2500 children last year, and 1500 the year before.
Police are on the lookout for a burglar accused of breaking into a food bank and stealing gifts meant for children from low-income families. The incident happened overnight in Dodewaard, Gelderland at a facility run by the Kinderen van de Voedselbank, a charity that supports children with clothes, shoes, day trips to the zoo and presents on birthdays.
Those celebrating Sinterklaas tonight must remember to take the rush hour traffic into account. The Traffic Information Service warns that the evening rush hour will possibly twice as busy than usual.
Opa Piet (Grandpa Piet) was flown in from Spain to train a lot of Pieten. But gradually over the past three weeks, it was revealed that he is not only a returned retiree.
Sinterklaasjournaal presenter Dieuwertje Blok received threats before the new season was broadcast. She said this on the program De Wereld Draait Door.
The packages streaming into PostNL formed such a tall tower that it collapsed. The 56 year old PostNL employee, Ellen, had to stop sorting the packages or she would literally have been buried by her workload, the Volkskrant reports.
Dutch department store HEMA has warned consumers that all products ordered online after November 27 might not be delivered on time for Sinterklaas this year. The retail store made headlines earlier today when news broke of the company's financial loss in the third quarter of this fiscal year, amounting to 14.8 million euro.