Over the weekend (15 & 16th November), children in Holland and Belgium have been very excited about the arrival of Black Peter (Zwarte Piet), who is a companion to Saint Nicholas according to folklore.
He arrives by boat wearing a brightly coloured costume and hands out sweets to the children. Actors who play the part, paint their faces black and don frizzy wigs.
It is said that Black Peter spies on the children to report back to Saint Nicholas who is good and who is not! He then takes part in the annual feast of Saint Nicholas on 5th (or 6th) December.
The tradition dates back to the 1800s when Black Peter was thought to be a devil like creature. However since the turn of the 20th century his character has been softened to make him more child friendly and less frightening. It is now said that he was a Spanish or Italian Chimney sweep who had a permanent layer of soot on his body.
This year the arrival of Black Peter has sparked cries of racism and attempts were made to change him to rainbow coloured or white. Indeed the people of Gouda in Holland were so incensed by it all, that they caused a riot which resulted in 60 arrests. They wanted to make him yellow and call him Cheese Peter after the name of their town.
I find it very sad that a tradition dating back many many years has become the subject of "political correctness". What do you think? Should it be allowed to continue or is it time to give it all up?
On a happier note Christmas looms ever closer, and I have actually started my Christmas shopping now!
Running a Craft Supplies website, I start thinking of the Festive Season early in the year when I begin to upload items on to the website. giving everyone plenty of time to make their Christmas themed crafts. So I always think that the big day is ages away and all of a sudden it creeps up on me. Silly really, because I know what date it is - it never changes!
I will leave you this week with this Christmas thought:-
What kind of music do Elves like best?