Each year in early December, the Dutch celebrate St. Nicholas Day with ginger cookies, town parades and shoes left out for ‘Sinterklaas’ to fill with gifts and sweets. Central to the celebrations is Sinterklaas’s helper, Zwarte Piet or Black Pete, a traditionally beloved, but lately controversial character dressed in black face. The Netherlands' highest administrative court, the Council of State, ruled in favor of the controversial Christmas figure. The case was brought to the high court after a lower court ruled that Black Pete "forms a negative stereotyping of black people." The issue has greatly divided the country. We’ll talk about the role of Zwarte Piet and the changing way he is depicted in Dutch society with Roelof Jan Minneboo, a Dutch historian who represents the Zwarte Piet is Racism campaign.
(photo: "Sinterklaas zwarte piet" by Michell Zappa)