Sunday, January 3, 2010

Santa's little helper, "Black Pete"

Did you know that in the Netherlands Santa [aka Sinterklaas] has a little helper named Zwarte Piet [Black Pete]?

Yeah, me niether.
Apparently, to this day the Dutch employ a white guy (or lady) to dress in blackface, don an afro wig, gold jewelry, red lipstick and a broken accent and pal around with St. Nick wherever he goes.
Here's a little history, thanks to Wikipedia:

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...According to the more modern Saint Nicholas legend, Zwarte Piet is a servant who accompanies Saint Nicholas on his holiday travels. In some versions, it is alleged that Saint Nicholas once liberated a young slave named Peter, who decided to serve Nicholas (as a free servant) rather than enjoy liberty alone.
Yeah, right.
And if you're going to create blackface caricatures, the next logical step is baked goods versions:

source: cakewrecks
Watch out, little white kids. If you're bad Zwarte Piet will kidnap you, through you in a dufflebag and take you away to Spain, where apparently he and Santa chill on the off-season.

Unless, of course, you're disguised...

thanks to: Sociological Images


  1. I was just thinking about Black Pete the other day! As a kid in Belgium, my mom would take me to sit on Santa's lap in some kind of department store. It was terrifying to confront a Santa who looked more like the Pope and who only spoke Flemish. At the time, I always just thought Black Pete was an elf, and that the Belgians were trying to represent a variety of racial/ethnic backgrounds by having their elves in all colors and sizes. Knowing the real story is a little creepier.

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  2. It's interesting to me how the "explanation" of Black Pete seems to have changed over time. First, a devil, then a liberated (!) slave...but never an urge to repudiate the whole goddam thing and come to terms with it. I guess Europe is a little more screwed up than I thought.


  3. The Cake wreck speaks volumes... Blackfaced Ernie (of Bert&Ernie fame)with the Nation's flag? I see you now you fucks.