Black Pete is an important figure for the Dutch children’s holiday of Sinterklaas.


Black Pete, or any companion to any Winter solstice figure, is pagan in origin. When the church wanted to wipe out the pagan traditions, they would replace the Winter Solstice figure with a Saint. In Holland this assistant evolved over time into Zwarte Piet.


His most recent manifestation was largely given form by a children’s book by Jan Schenkman’s (Saint Nicolaas and his Squire, 1850)


Sinterklaas en zijn Knecht - 1850

Sinterklaas en zijn Knecht – 1850

In recent times much controversy has surrounded the figure of Black Pete.


The U.N.’s Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination claimed that the figure should be banned to which Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte replied:

“Folk traditions. Come on. What Christmas songs you should sing, how you celebrate Christmas and Easter — this isn’t what politics is about.”





Surinamese, Antillean and African minorities in Holland often also perceive the tradition as a legacy of colonial racism.



The fact is that Black Pete has nothing to do with either colonialism or slavery. Fact.


  1. He is either a Moorish Servant or
  2. Sooty from climbing down chimneys


Regardless of which version you preach he an employee of the Church. A slave to Jesus at the most.


So …

Is the Black Pete tradition racist ?- No
Are there people that think that the Black Pete tradition is racist? – Yes
Are these people wrong? – Yes
Are they entitled to feel this way? -Yes
Will the Black Pete tradition change? – Yes, all traditions change


One fact is that Black Pete is a misunderstood symbol.