Each year on 5 December, the Dutch celebrate the eve of Saint Nicholas. And each year in the Netherlands, a debate arises about the many black-faced, Afro-haired helpers who figure in the narrative of Sinterklaas, as the Dutch call the white-bearded saint who children have come to associate with gifts and sweets.
Those who say Zwarte Piet – which literally means ‘Black Pete’ – is a slave take offense at the perpetuation of a politically incorrect, if not downright racist, tradition. This year, an Amsterdam councilwoman told a Dutch daily that it was high time to say goodbye to Zwarte Piet. Meanwhile, others maintain that Zwarte Piet is a humorous character in a harmless fairytale. Some attribute his black face to travelling down many a chimney to bring children presents at home.
In 2007, the Groen Brothers, a comedy duo from Amsterdam, produced this satirical infomercial, telling Dutch viewers how they could order their very own Zwarte Piet.