Hooray!! It's 5 December, which means it's time for the annual Sinterklaas celebration. The man who's quite a few years older than Santa Claus (Source and other differences explained) arrived in The Netherlands a couple of weeks ago. Now the time has come for him to give all the sweet Dutch children some candy and toys! Obviously, he cannot do this alone, so his mates of the "Black Pete Gang" will assist him with that. This post is not going to explain who they are, and why they are, or, why they are not racist. There are plenty of other links for that ("1" "2" "3" "4" "5") What is most important is that the tradition continues and that children get spoiled for a month and a half (Yes, they celebrate Christmas in the Netherlands too).
What most people don't know about Sinterklaas and his helpers is that they do a lot of sports. It takes, of course, quite some effort to climb on rooftops, balance on them while riding a horse and of course to ride a horse in general when you are more than 500 years old.
A few years ago things went wrong and Sinterklaas fell from his horse named Amerigo. Luckily one of the Black Petes was there to help him out and back in the saddle.
Sinterklaas lives in Spain throughout the year and owns a private mansion in which he and his helpers can train in all sports they want to develop themselves in. No one is allowed in this mansion, only those who are invited of course. In order to be invited, you would need to pass the Black Pete test, which involves a lot of physical strength and balancing skills.
As they spend almost three weeks in the Netherlands from mid-November, until the 6th of December before they go back to Spain, they need to keep up with their fitness level. This is why you can find them often performing all sorts of sports. Cycling is of course very common in the Netherlands. Areas like on the photo above can be very tricky. The Netherlands is generally very flat, but cycling on roads with such an open space can often be a real cruel situation due to the strong winds.
Casa de Campo is a luxury golf resort in the Dominican Republic. Once a year Sinterklaas goes over for a week or two to work on his handicap. Of course, he doesn't use any clubs, because why would he? Sinterklaas uses his staff, which apparently is ideal for longe range shots, but less effective when it comes to putting.
As Sinterklaas loves children, you will often see him visiting youth clubs. Besides bringing candy and toys for the kids, also in the weeks prior to his birthday, Sinterklaas provides Masterclasses. Here you can see them on a photo after such a Masterclass session at the local tennis club in Zeewolde.
Sinterklaas is not very good in korfball and volleyball. Both sports more or less force him to take off his mitre. I am sure all of you know what volleyball is. Korfball is a sport which is more or less some sort of a combination of basketball and netball. Teams exist of both men and women and the Netherlands has thus far been the only team to ever win the world championships in this sport (9 times), with the exception of 1991, when Belgium won the final with a one-goal difference. Belgium won all the silver medals at the tournaments won by the Dutch by the way.
We all know that sports unite people. It doesn't matter if it's the players performing the sports, or if it's the fans in the stadium becoming one in their support for the teams. Sports does not only do good things for the body but does also give us the ability to learn how to make decisions, how to be social, a team player or an individualist. Earlier this week I've read a post by @kristyyd about the dangerous side of sports, which is a very good article by the way. It's certainly important to carefully choose the sport you allow your child to practice, but it is also very important that you do allow your children to practice sports in general.
I am very happy that Sinterklaas and his helpers understand the importance of sports and that they do regularly visit the local sports clubs in the Netherlands in the few weeks that they are in the country. You can see on the photos in this blog that the children enjoy their presence very much.
To me personally, it doesn't matter how the Netherlands will continue with this tradition, as long as the tradition continues. I doubt that there is any child who sees Black Pete as a slave. The Netherlands is a very multicultural country and these children grow up in an environment with people from all sorts of backgrounds. Then, on the other hand, there's definitely something to say for the skin color of the Black Petes. I have never been bothered about it, but then I am not black myself. I understand some people do get offended by this, even though they shouldn't in my opinion. Most people in the Netherlands respect black and white and simply see Black Pete as a character, which they grew up with and to whom they have warm feelings. The last couple of years lots of people (mostly, but not only, people with a dark skin) have been requesting to either ban Black Pete, or change him into another color, or to remove his colors (make him white as well).
As I don't have any children (yet) and as I am not living in the Netherlands for six years already, I guess I don't really have much to say about it. However, if it's up to me, Black Pete stays black. If I have to choose between banning him completely or have him in a different color, then I will opt for a different color. I see the value of the character, but I also see what people have against him.
I know there are a lot of African and other dark-skinned people on Scorum and I would honestly hear your opinion on this topic as an outsider. What do you see when you look at these pictures? Do you see racism/dark-skinned slaves? Or do you see happy dark-skinned assistants, who are friends of the children? Of course, anyone who is not dark-skinned can give their opinion as well. I'm very curious to see how foreigners, who perhaps don't know about this tradition look at it.
Anyway, yes Sinterklaas is here on Scorum and he will be doing what Sinterklaas is supposed to do. Give away some presents! The first 10 people that upvote this post and place a comment with "Thank you Sinterklaas" will receive 2 SCR from Sinterklaas.
Thank you for reading and sharing your opinion!