Sunday, December 19, 2010

Zwarte Piet is Comin' to Town...

Back  from Orlando and visiting Harry Potter and friends. More on that later, though. Why? Because it's almost Christmas!

I have written, in years past, about all the different Holiday traditions that my family and I have observed. From stolen Christmas trees to lurking elves, to me not getting a remote controlled K9, I've covered a lot, and you can view it all by scrolling through the archives on the right.

As wonderful as all the Holiday traditions here in the U.S. of A., are (Santa, etc.), other countries have their own unique take on the season. My favorite, and one that definitely falls into the "WOW, is that messed up" tradition, comes from our friends in the Netherlands.

Here in the states, we have Santa and his "naughty or nice" list, where Santa keeps track of all the little boys' and girls' behaviour over the course of the year, and doles  out gifts according to how "good" you've been. Our Dutch pals take it one step  further, though. In the Netherlands, "Sinterklaas" (basically Santa, with a more convoluted origin), travels with his associate, "Zwarte Piet". Where Sinterklaas rewards children with gifts for good behavior, Ol'  Zwarte has a different agenda. If you've been mildly naughty (neglecting your chores, skipping homework, etc.), he will leave switches of wood for your parents to  spank you with. Not the best way to spend the Holidays, but much better than what awaits you if Piety decides you've  been really bad (killing someone, being the Governor of Massachusetts, etc.). Zwarte Piet travels with a load of duffel bags, and all the really naughty children are stuffed into the bags and carried away to Spain, where, apparently, Sinterklass and his homeys hang. No information exists about what happens to you  once you get there, but I bet it involves indentured servitude working at an all-inclusive resort. The  thought of being stuffed into a bag by a creepy guy and carried away to a foreign land and working for tips sure makes Santa's naughty/nice list seem pretty benign. Although, to  be truthful, there have been Holidays where being whisked to Spain by an evil magical creature would be preferable to what I was doing. At least I wouldn't have to kiss Aunt Gin!

 Still, the threat of Zwarte Piet is a stroke of brilliance from Dutch Moms and Dads. Creepy threats are always the best way to get your kids to toe the line. 

No wonder the Dutch are so well behaved!

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

good to have you back! hope your trip yielded lots of great photos and lots of great memories.

funny you should choose this character for your topic and cartoon...


December 20, 2010 at 5:57 AM  
Blogger Mykal said...

Being of Dutch ancestory I can sympathize with such a stern, no-nonsense tradition. Here, naughty kids often get a pass in the spirit of Christmas. No so with Mr. Piet. I say good on you, Mr. Piet! Discipline is needed, even at Christmas!

Wonderful drawing, and Merry Christmas!

December 20, 2010 at 7:30 PM  
Blogger Bill White said...

Always nice to hear comments from those familiar with the Dutch and their doings!

Mykal, you and I are on the same page when it comes to child rearing: Threats work better than a smile.

eeteed- You shall get all my memories, and a whole lot more, in future posts!

December 21, 2010 at 1:50 PM  

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