This year the festivities were planned to take place right outside of our living room window. Sebastiaan and I had completely forgotten about the arrival of Sinterklaas this year so when we looked outside our window in the morning I was not quite prepared for what I saw.
There was a crowd of a few hundred of Dutch people in black face. No seriously, black paint on their faces and hands, AND as is the tradition, the children were also dressed up as Zwarte Pieten. We just had to go outside to get a closer look. So there I am 26 years old standing with my boyfriend surrounded by hundreds of screaming blonde children with black paint on their faces.
All I could think about was, what would happen if someone tried to do this in America? I can only imagine how long it would take for just about every civil rights organization out there to be up in arms putting an end to Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet for good. As shocked and mildly offended as I was, it was hard not to be swept into the joy of this unique Dutch tradition. The children laughed, waved and sang songs to Sinterklas while parents held them on their shoulders, took pictures and sipped on hot chocolate.
I have to say it was all pretty sweet. I even found myself thinking, “wow, I can’t wait to do this with my kids.” I think we’ll just have to do without the black face paint…