The end of Zwarte Piet? No more Black Pete for Sinterklaas’ arrival in Apeldoorn

The traditional black faced Zwarte Piet won’t be present at the Apeldoorn parade of Sinterklaas this year and only subtle ‘soot Pete’s’ will be present. 

This announcement was made earlier today by the NTR who are responsible for organising the arrival of Sinterklaas, which takes place in Apeldoorn on Saturday November 16, and producing the Sinterklaas journal,

No more Zwarte Piet! Reflecting modern times?

Last year, the Sinterklaas parade in many cities caused national backlash as many people protested the occasion. The Netherlands remains heavily divided on the tradition. 

In 2018, the NTR announced that no original – totally black – Pieten would be allowed. Despite this, people still turned up wearing black paint on their faces. This sparked confusion and has people wondering whether people will disobey orders this year as well? A spokesperson for the NTR has said “Not this year anymore. The step we have now taken is the result of a gradual development that took a few years”, RTL reports. 

NTR introduced the soot wipe in 2014 and has been trying to phase out “Zwarte Piet” ever since.

Is this decision infringing on a long-standing tradition or merely adapting to modern times and reflecting the wishes of the people? There are many conflicting opinions on twitter on the matter:

Many people believe that blackface is merely a part of the history and shouldn’t be interfered with:

Others voice their support for the decision:

And one man is simply fed up with the ongoing debate:

Spokesperson for KOZP celebrates ‘historic day’

Jerry Afriyie, who belongs to the Kick Out Zwarte Piet group, has said “this is a day that many black people in this country have been waiting for. I think this has been very difficult for the NTR to make this decision, it takes courage to make the decision.”

“I can only applaud this and I hope that everyone will embrace it. But even if there are aggressive reactions, I hope that they will continue and that they will not be stopped”, RTL reports. 

Well, just 2 more months till Sinterklaas arrives, it’s almost Autumn – yes, it’s time for the annual Zwarte Pieten debate!

Freya Sawbridge
Freya Sawbridge
Freya was born in Edinburgh but raised in New Zealand (cue every person she meets saying “oh I have always wanted to go there but it’s so far away!”). A restless and curious nature has led her to move countries 5 times in the last 3 years in attempt to find a place she can call home. She contacted DutchReview on a whim and arrived in the Netherlands in summer 2019 to start her internship.

4 COMMENTS

  1. The NTR needs to back off, it’s a tradition you can’t change tradition. It will be like telling people to change their religion because you find it offensive. Everything in this world is going to offend someone at one point in their lives, and those people need to stop whinning like a two year old. Grow up and leave things alone.

  2. When people gets aggressive and insulting racist to kick out black Pete group, then Something is not right or not genuine tradition.
    Non white Kids who are born and grow up in the country, are saying it is an insulting character to black people. I believe the tradition needs to adjust with time, the same as france and Netherlands ban to burqa for Muslim community.

  3. The fun thing is in this scenario that the opposers against the black piet are the ignorant ones. Rascist is having only white people handing out candy. The history of the figure himselfs actually represents the opposite of slavery. As Sint Nicolas bought children slaves away and gave them a job (I don’t think there would have been any better option for them in that time). He gave money to the poor, saved children out of dangerous situations. There’s tons of stories, and even though not being known to the tradition it looks a bit odd/peciluar (whitch tradition doesn’t), there is no way ment to ridicule/do harm to certain groups of people and there’s never been any problems for a long long time with the tradition until suddenly the suggestion was made it might be racist and the ball started rolling. Even though, most of us are tolerant against these ignorant action groups that protest (yes there’s always some people causing trouble, happens in Catalunya as well besides the peacefull protests that’s not the mayority), you give them a finger and they want a full hand. Now the whole figure Piet has to be banned, and some want to bann the whole festivity (some people even hating dutch culture coming from a different cultural background; they get tolerance from us as we are a multicultural country, we get a big middlefinger back; their culture comes in, but ours has to go out. There’s a few things we can be proud of and we should keep that. And yes, culture over time develops and can adapt to modern times; But not with force, not with telling lies and not with protesting in front of small children. It’s also quite hypocrytical as the action groups were very small 99 percent (if not more) have to make pass for a very minor percentage of opposers.

  4. Guys, traditions have to change if they are rooted in racism. They don’t get to stay just because it’s “historical” or “tradition”. TIMES CHANGE, if they didn’t we would still have slavery and women wouldn’t be allowed to vote smh.

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