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“Black Pete” tradition grows


Zwarte Piet

Origin and evolution

The first origin of Sinterklaas and his helpers can probably found in the Wild Hunt of Wodan Riding the white horse Sleipnir he flew through the air as the leader of the Wild Hunt. He was always accompanied by two black ravens, Huginn and Muninn[2] Those helpers would listen, just like Zwarte Piet, at the chimney – which was just a hole in the roof at that time – to tell Wodan about the good and bad behaviours of the mortals.[3] During the ChristianizationPope Gregory Iargued that conversions were easier if people were allowed to retain the outward forms of their traditions, while claiming that the traditions were in honour of the Christian God. Saint Nicolas tradition is one of them, converting Wodan to a Christian counterpart.[citation needed]
 
According to myths dating to the beginning of the 19th century, Saint Nicholas (Sinterklaas) operated by himself or in the companionship of a devil. Having triumphed over evil, it was said that on Saint Nicholas Eve, the devil was shackled and made his slave. A devil as a helper of the Saint can also still be found in Austrian Saint Nicholas tradition in the character of Krampus.
 
 
 
Some sources indicate that in Germanic Europe, Zwarte Piet originally was such a mastered devil forced to assist his captor, but the character emerged in the 19th century within the Netherlands as a companion of Saint Nicholas resembling a Moor.[4] Saint Nicholas is said to come from the Byzantine Empire, modern Turkey.

AMSTERDAM (AP) — Foreigners visiting the Netherlands in winter are often surprised to see that the Dutch version of St. Nicholas’ helpers have their faces painted black, wear Afro wigs and have thick red lips — in short, a racist caricature of a black person.
The overwhelming majority of Dutch are fiercely devoted to the holiday tradition of “Zwarte Piet” — whose name means “Black Pete” — and insist he’s a harmless fictional figure who doesn’t represent any race. But a growing number are questioning whether “Zwarte Piet” should be given a makeover or banished from the holiday scene, seeing him as a blight on the nation’s image as a bulwark of tolerance.
“There is more opposition to Zwarte Piet than you might think,” says Jessica Silversmith, director of the regional Anti-Discrimination Bureau for Amsterdam. She said that historically her office received only one or two complaints per year, but the number jumped to more than 100 last year, and will escalate much further this year.
In the U.S., stereotypical black makeup — called blackface — was phased out in the civil-rights era. But in Britain, a TV show featuring blackface lasted until the late 1970s before the practice became taboo. Blackface crops up in other European countries from time to time, such as in a theater performance in Germany this year, but it’s only in the Netherlands that it’s institutionalized in the form of Black Pete.
A sea-change may have occurred here during last year’s festivities, when four men were arrested for wearing T-shirts bearing the slogan “Zwarte Piet is Racism” outside a store during an appearance of Sinterklaas — and charged with protesting without a permit.
Police threw one, Quinsy Gario, to the ground, and kneed him in the back repeatedly as they dragged him away, though he offered no resistance. A video of the incident was placed on YouTube, and the slogan began trending.
Although police were later found to have acted wrongly, many parents still felt that it was inappropriate to protest during the holiday or when children were present. Gario responds that Dutch people won’t discuss the matter the rest of the year, so his protest was the only way to broach the subject.
This year the debate has clearly escalated.

thank you battleskin88

Short URL: http://www.newsnet14.com/?p=114198

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