Monday, December 2, 2013
The characters of Zwarte Pieten appear only in the weeks before Saint Nicholas's feast (which is today the 6th), first when the saint is welcomed with a parade as he arrives in the country (usually by boat). Zwarte Pieten mainly amuses children, and scatters pepernoten, Kruidnoten and "strooigoed" (special sinterklaas-candies) for those who come to meet the saint as he visits stores, schools, and other places.
According to the more modern Saint Nicholas legend, Zwarte Piet is a servant who tavels with Saint Nicholas. In some versions, Saint Nicholas is said to have liberated a young slave named Peter, who decided to serve Nicholas. Zwarte Piet is today commonly depicted as a black person in the colorful pantaloons, feathered cap and ruffles of a Renaissance European page, a tradition that comes from a children's book published in 1850. Many feel that this visage is racist, though.
"Santa Claus Origins and FAQ" Christmas Connection http://lnstar.com/mall/main-areas/santafaq.htm
"Christmas in Norway" http://www.stavanger-web.com/jul/christma.htm (Image from there as well)
Posted by Sam Curtin at 8:36 AM