AMSTERDAM—Every second Saturday in November, according to Dutch folklore, Zwarte Piet, or Black Pete, arrives in the Netherlands, having traveled by steamboat with Sinterklaas, the Dutch version of Santa Claus, from their home in Spain. The duo remain in the Netherlands until Dec. 5, the name day of Saint Nicholas—a major Dutch holiday similar to Christmas elsewhere.
The beloved Zwarte Piet character is said to be the Moorish assistant of Sinterklaas, and he is customarily depicted as a black man with curly black hair, clownish attire, red lipstick and hoop earrings.
Listen to Tracy Brown Hamilton discuss this article on WPR’s Trend Lines Podcast. Her audio starts at 23:10.