Zwarte Piet is the helper of Sinterklaas, and climbs down chimneys to put presents and candy in kids shoes on December 5th. Sinterklaas has a lot of these sidekicks, and every single one of them is called Zwarte Piet.
The explanation parents these days give to kids as to why Zwarte Piet is black is that he's not black because he's from Africa, but because he climbs down dirty chimneys. Therefor, his skincolor can be anything but we'll never know since we only see the dirt form the chimney. This is told to avoid racial issues.

Zwarte Piet can best be translated as Black Pete.

According to tradition, there are many Zwarte Pieten, who all have their own specialization (much like the smurfs). There is a Zwarte Piet for writing the poetry that accompagnies Sinterklaas presents, one that bakes speculaas, one to care for Sinterklaas' horse, one for everything you can think of. There is also always one Luie Piet (Lazy Pete) or Domme Piet (Stupid Pete), to provide comic intermezzos. And to provide an excuse for any late present or not-so-good poem.

The festival of Sinterklaas is celebrated every year in Dutch primary schools. To avoid the accusation of racism, especially in schools with many non-white kids, the Zwarte Pieten sometimes come as a multicoloured bunch: a Red Pete, a Green Pete, a Blue Pete...
One wonders what is more important: tradition or political correctness. In this case political correctness seems to have won.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.