Why I’m afraid of Santa….
During Christmas time Tyra always got so excited about Santa. Just like any regular kids are. My mom made comment on how I was so different then, Both me and my sister were always afraid of Santa. I started remembering my childhood and if there’s a reason for me to be afraid of Santa.
Yes! It is Zwarte Piet or Black Pete! You probably are not familiar with Black Pete or Zwarte Piet in Dutch – being a Dutch descent our family adopt Christmas tradition just how grandmother know it, with Sinterklaas (Santa Claus) and Zwarte Piet (Black Pete/Peter).
Dutch Christmas holiday story and including my parents warn that while Sinterklaas and his Zwarte Pieten will leave well-behaved children presents, they will punish those who have been naughty. For example they will take bad children and carry these children off in a burlap sack to be punish.
So why I was so scared of Santa even if I’ve been good? Well first of all Dutch Santa Claus is not the same with fatherly friendly figure that American people are used to, Sinterklaas is very serious, very stern and dress very proper with long religious robe (kind like that Pope is wearing) – he still bring gift and candy, but there’s no ho ho ho… famous line. We didn’t sit on his lap, we’re standing while he’s looking at us with serious eyes that can make you shiver inside and out and ask if you been a good girl or not.
Heres’ the sick part…. Your parents will already told him what kind of trouble you made throughout the year, so when you said “Yes, I’ve been a good girl, and Sinterklaas will say “Don’t you lie to me. I know you lock your sister in the bathroom!”
Did I mention Zwarte Piet?
I belive the story behind him is he’s the devil that Santa recruit to be his helper and no, he’s not cute like elf! He’s the devil. So he normally will stand stern behind Santa and his body and face will be painted black! Tell me what kid will not be scared of that image?! He’s known to be punishing the bad kids and give them coal. But even if you are a good girl, he still scares the “haha” out of you!
Needles say.. Christmas is always a fun tradition growing up too. Even though our family is Muslim but we also have relative who is Catholic and Christiian and we always experience both religious holiday. Presents, money, new clothes, new toys, food what’s not to like? Even the Sinterklaas part is (kinda) fun. It is part of it so going through Christmas without Sinterklaas is just doesn’t feel right.
Well, last night I try to share with my husband my Christmas childhood story, and did more research to show it to him. I discover that a lot of people actually feel offended by Black Pete. They associate it with Dutch racism and colonial history. I personally don’t know what to comment on it. Back home we never thought of having black pete as part of the holiday as being racist. Somehow religion always have this idea of good is white and evil is black. He’s always part of Dutch Holiday tradition since the 15th century, I believe.
Unfortunately Dutch does have negative stereotype of their colonial past. Nobody can change that. People who knows and read history won’t even try to deny that and this is one example, many view black Pete as a racist caricature from the country’s colonial past.
Happy Holiday!!! or to keep up with the Dutch spirit, Prettige Kerstfeest!!