This notorious Christmas character is dividing a country
Neo-Nazis in the Netherlands have responded violently to calls to get rid of Santa's blackface holiday assistant.
To celebrate December 5, the Dutch St. Nicholas holiday, Netherlanders gather for parades in which the saint (in Dutch, Sinterklass) arrives in town to hand out candy and gifts. But these parades have taken on an increasingly political—and violent—tone this year because of Santa’s traditional blackface sidekick.
In Dutch tradition, Sinterklaas has a “helper” named Zwarte Piet, or “Black Pete,” who usually appears as a blackface character with large gold earrings and exaggerated lips. In the weeks leading up to the saint’s name day, cities and towns host parades featuring hundreds of white people dressed as Piet. Stores stock up with Zwarte Piet costumes, merchandise, and baked goods while adults visit children’s homes and schools dressed as Sinterklaas and Piet.