|People are talking about Sinterklaas today because the Dutch Santa is arriving in Amsterdam tomorrow. But two years ago, Caroline Nelissen, a young Dutch reporter for Youth Journalism International, took time to look into the cultural traditions surrounding the celebration and found that not everyone was charmed by the continued use of "Zwarte Piet," or "Black Pete" as Santa's helper. The story exploring racism in a holiday tradition won a Frank Keegan "Take No Prisoners" Award for News in 2010, one of the top honors given in Youth Journalism International's|
annual Excellence in Journalism contest.
Caroline Nelissen / youthjournalism.org
A doll depicting Zwarte Piet, or "Black Pete,"
who serves as a helper to Sinterklaas, on display in the Netherlands
By Caroline Nelissen
ERMELO, Gelderland, Netherlands, Dec. 7, 2009 – While children in most Christmas-celebrating countries find presents under the Christmas tree, Dutch children look forward to gifts during their Sinterklaas celebration.
Sinterklaas is a celebration in honor of Saint Nicholas, with a lot of customs. There are traditional songs and even special television shows for children. Sinterklaas travels, so the story goes, from Spain to the Netherlands in a steamboat filled with gifts.
Though December 6 is the anniversary of the death of St. Nicholas, the main celebration is held here on Sinterklaas Eve, the evening of December 5.
The fun starts weeks ahead of time. In November, most towns organize a parade to welcome Sinterklaas, who rides into town on a white horse.
This link leads to the entire story, with more photos.