Expatica news

‘Sinterklaas’ takes Dutch city to court

10 June 2004

AMSTERDAM — Several manifestations of Saint Nicholas and four ‘Black Piets’ appeared in a court in Deventer, central Holland, on Thursday to appeal against a local ordnance banning Sinterklaas from appearing in the city before 5 December.

Saint Nicholas bears some resemblance to Father Christmas, or Santa Claus, who ‘lives’ in the North Pole and brings presents to children on 25 December in several countries around the world, including the UK and the US.

Children in the Netherlands receive gifts every year on 5 December from Saint Nicholas, or Sinterklaas, who travels from his home in Spain. He is accompanied by Zwarte Pieten (Black Piets), black-faced helpers slammed by critics as a racist stereotype.

Professional Saint Nicholas and Black Piets helpers also make appearances in Dutch department stores and at parties on and after 5 December.

The city council in Deventer has decreed no Sinterklaas should make an appearance in the city before the actual Sinterklaas has been and delivered his presents, news agency ANP reported.

One Sinterklaas, Peter Westerbeek, does not agree with the city councillors. He applied for waivers to allow him to hold small Sinterklaas parties before 5 December in 2002 and 2003. Permission was denied on both occasions.

He launched legal proceedings against the city in March of this year. Several Sinterklaas colleagues and Black Piets turned up in court on Thursday to hear the verdict.

The judge decided not to rule on the validity of the law and referred the case to a mediator.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news + Sinterklaas