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A couple of Christmas ago, I commented about the tradition of the Three Wise Men in Spain and in many countries of Latin America. One of the ways of celebrating these festivities is through a parade, where there is always a man representing the black wise man Balthazar, usually a white man in blackface. I wrote about why this particular way of dressing up is inappropriate, and frankly racist.
I’ve just learned that there is also another Christmas celebration in some European countries known as Sinterklaas or Saint Nicholas Day (the European Santa Claus), that occurs every 5th of December. This time is Santa himself who brings the presents to children helped by various servants known as “Black Petes”.
Of course there are parades where black Petes are represented again by white men in blackface.
According to the history of this holiday, Black Pete represented what was evil, while Santa represented all that was good.
Santa is the white fatherly figure that loves and rewards children, while Black Pete is some kind of black devil that punishes them.
White is good, black is bad.

Incredibly, this “celebration” is very popular, particularly in the Netherlands, where parades are broadcasted on TV.

St Nicholas and the black Petes

This tradition probably made sense in the Europe of the Middle Ages, but it’s hard to understand today.