I know you guys don't really like political stuff that much, but there's a discussion going on around Holland about zwarte pieten and I thought I should tell you guys a bit about what's going on.

You see, over here we celebrate Sinterklaas instead of Christmas. Actually, Christmas comes from Sinterklaas in a way.

If you want to read about it in detail, you can find it's wikipedia page here. But basically, a guy called Sinterklaas comes over here from Spain in a steamboat half way through November, and leaves again on the 6th of December. In his steamboat are a bunch of presents (he somehow manages to fit presents for everyone in Holland in his boat).

Those presents are made in his factory in Spain by zwarte pieten (or black petes in English). There are a whole bunch of stories about those zwarte pieten which I won't get in to (it's just a bunch of stuff like how they give all the kids presents on the 5th (Sinterklaas' birthday) and can see all the bad things that kids do).

In the days leading up to the 5th kids can put their shoe by the fireplace with a carrot in it (for Sinterklaas' horse). They then sing Sinterklaas songs and in the night Sinterklaas will walk over the roof of houses with his horse and put things in those kids' shoes (spoiler: he climbs through the chimney together with his horse).

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Well, now that you know the background story. The discussion is about the zwarte pieten. You see, for a few years now there have been people saying that all the things around zwarte pieten are racist. There have been quite a few people protesting about it in the last few years too and people saying how they feel insulted by it. But recently, it's been getting a lot of media coverage and there are lots of discussions about it everywhere (there's also a piet-ition on Facebook to prevent them from disappearing).

This is what a zwarte piet usually looks like.

On one side you have people saying that it's racist. The reason why they find this racist is because of the way they portray black people and how they work for Sinterklaas as slaves.

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On the other side of the discussion you have the people saying that it's not racist or that it's tradition and shouldn't stop for that reason. In fact, according to the votes and petitions I've seen they form the majority.

The people on this side of the discussion are saying things like: "because the majority isn't troubled by it, it shouldn't be a problem because that's democracy" or "why should they (people who are insulted by zwarte pieten) come here and make us change our traditions" - actual quotes from people at my school about the zwarte pieten discussion.

There are people that feel insulted by this tradition, so it's (in my opinion) kind of egotistic to say "screw you, this is how we do things".

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What do you think?

Image sources: Titel image from a google images search on "Sinterklaas stoomboot". Second image from a google image search on "zwarte piet".