I just discovered all of this tonight and was rather flabbergasted. http://www.intra-kapelle.nl/shop/images/etalagemateriaal/sinterklaas/pietenskai.jpg [Broken] http://www.awfulgood.com/doa-images/20031207-nl-0012.jpg [Broken] http://www.awfulgood.com/doa-images/20031207-nl-0007.jpg [Broken] There is even a band that dresses up in blackface and buffoonish pantaloons. http://www.geocities.com/joopbersee/pietzaklopen.gif What the heck is the deal with this? I've been looking into this and Sinterklaas, their version of Saint Nicholas (distinct from Santa Claus, despite the name) has an army of coons that deliver presents if you've been good, but beat you with a switch if you've been bad (some accounts have them kidnapping you and turning you into a black). They're called zwarten pieten. Apparently, Zwarte Piet was originally a devil or demon of some sort back in the middle ages that Saint Nick triumphed over and enslaved (prior to beginning of the Dutch slave trade). The story has evolved over the years and he is now seen alternatively as Turkish or Moorish, and in some accounts will take you to the Caliphate in Spain if you're bad (obviously, the Caliphate no longer exists, but that is why it was originally a bad thing to be taken to Spain). The devil evolved into a muslim but is depicted as a straight pickaninny right out of Song of the South. http://www.awfulgood.com/doa-archives/000212.php [Broken] in Holland that is a black caribbean was tired of being harassed by little kids that thought she was Zwarte Piet, was offended, and got 200 signatures on a petition to ban the presence of this figure in school celebrations before the teachers confiscated it, saying she was ruining the joy of Sinterklaas, which I guess just isn't the same without an outrageous caricature of the darkie tradition. Obviously, I'm not Dutch and have no clue how cherished a tradition it is for them to have a pickanny muslim devil whip kids with a switch if they've been bad that year and threaten them with also becoming black, but why on earth is this kind of thing accepted? I know we have members here from Holland. Does this honestly not bother you?