These are Zwarte Pieten, or Black Peters. For some, they're a sacred yuletide tradition. For others, a racist symbol. Black Pete appeared the 1850s, when Dutch colonies still had slaves.
For those who have followed the discussion about the role of Black Face ('Zwarte Piet') by professor Verene Shepherd of the United Nations, please check our background story about the topic.
I learn my children that Zwarte Piet is just dirty because of the chimney.... and I like the tradition though I'm a 'colored' foreigner living in the Netherlands
Interesting story, Emily and Simon. I have never heard of this holiday tradition. Though patently racist through my foreigner eyes, it sounds as though the Netherlanders want to hold on tight to "tradition" by falling victim to purposeful ignorance. Some traditions are better off left in the past, or should be updated to fit modern day society.
Nice story , I liked it so much