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.
On Friday the Dutch government will announce a nationwide ban on the strongest consumer fireworks - fireworks that fall in the so-called third category like strips and rolls of firecrackers, sources in The Hague told broadcaster NOS. Both the fireworks sector and the police are dissatisfied with the ban.
The ban will take effect from New Year's 2020-2021, according to the broadcaster. Category three fireworks, which form only a small share of the Dutch market, are already banned in Belgium and Germany.
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.
The first debate for the Provincial State elections of 20 March, which will ultimately also determine the composition of the Senate, happened on RTL on Thursday. The climate was one of the main points that the leaders of the VVD, CDA, D66, PVV, SP, PvdA and FvD debated, NU.nl reports.
Officials of the municipality of The Hague were threatened by builders of traditional bonfires in the run-up to New Year's, according to minutes of a meeting released on Thursday. The builders of the Scheveningen and Duindorp bonfires also threatened each other, the municipality's Security director said during a meeting with the municipality, the police and Public Prosecutor on December 31st, NU.nl reports.
Anti-racism activists will protest in the Friesland village of Grou on Saturday during the arrival of Sint Piter and Swarte Pyt, a local version of Zwarte Piet. The protest was arranged by action group Kick Out Swarte Pyt (KOSP), which consists of the same people as Kick Out Zwarte Piet, one of the best known groups in protests against Sinterklaas' blackface helper, according to newspaper AD.
Mayor Annemiek Jetten of Vlaardingen received multiple threats, including death threats. The mayor filed six police reports at the end of last year - four times for insult, two times for threats, RTV Rijnmond reports.
Why the mayor was threatened, and by whom, is still under investigation. The threats may be connected to the decision to ban traditional New Year's fires in the municipality, according to the broadcaster. This decision resulted in a flood of criticism on the city government, and the mayor specifically.
The enthusiasm for lighting fireworks over New Year's is decreasing among young Dutch people. Some 32 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds will probably light fireworks this coming New Year's, compared to 45 percent last year, according to an online survey by I&O Research among over 3 thousand people, NU.nl reports.
The proportion of Dutch who think that Sinterklaas' controversial helper must stay in his traditional blackface form decreased from 65 percent in 2016 to around 50 percent this year, according to a survey by research agency I&O Research among 3,145 Dutch aged 18 or older, NOS reports.
The Netherlands' tradition of letting consumers light fireworks over New Year's has the Dutch population properly divided. The majority of Dutch men want to keep this tradition, while the majority of Dutch women are in favor of fireworks bans, according to a survey newspaper AD conducted among over 157 thousand people.
According to the newspaper, 65 percent of all men are against a fireworks ban in their municipality, while 61 percent of women are for such a ban.
For the first time in years, Sinterklaas' national arrival may happen without any protests for or against controversial character Zwarte Piet. The national arrival is happening in Dokkum on November 18th. By Wednesday night the municipality of Dongeradeel, which covers Dokkum, received no applications for demonstrations, AD reports.
The foundation for society and safety SMV wants to ban individuals lighting fireworks over New Year's. The use of New Year's fireworks must only take place within controlled events in professional fireworks shows, SMV director Ingrid de Jong said in the Telegraaf on Wednesday.
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.
A number of Protestant and Roman Catholic schools in The Hague are scaling back on the Christian character of their Easter celebrations in consideration of their non-Christian students. Leaders of Christian schools in The Hague's multicultural neighborhoods feel it is better to adjust their Easter celebrations to accommodate their mainly non-Christian student bodies, AD reports.
With outside temperatures of -4 degrees and seawater temperatures of around 7 degrees, some 50 thousand Dutch people took the traditional New Year's plunge at 142 locations in the Netherlands around noon on Sunday, RTL Nieuws reports.
The plunge at Scheveningen, The Hague was most popular with over 10 thousand people diving into freezing cold water.A spokesperson for the organizers called the plunge "nice and crisp",.
Despite the low temperatures, no one became hypothermic or was injured in any other way.
Anti-Zwarte Piet activist Jerry Afriyie filed abuse reports against a number of police offiers on Tuesday. According to the activists, the police use unnecessary violence while arresting him and nearly 200 others in Rotterdam on Sinterklaas' arrival day on November 12th, AD reports.
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.
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.
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.
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."
Zwarte Piet in his current for is in violation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, says Children's Ombudsman Margrite Kalverboer. According to her, the figure of Zware Piet can contribute to bullying, exclusion or discrimination. He must therefore be adapted in such a way tht no children experience negativity in the Sinterklaas festival
More than 100 Dutch celebrities, including directors, actors and athletes, wrote an open letter to broadcaster NTR on Friday asking that the appearance of controversial Sinterklaas character Zwarte Piet be updated to fit a multicultural society, NRC reports based on the letter in its possession.
The 14 Liberation Day festivals in the Netherlands on Thursday drew a record number of over a million people, according to the police. The most visited festivals were in Groningen, Zwolle, Wageningen and Haarlem.