News of: Saturday, November 15 2014,
Sinterklaas, the Dutch version of Santa Claus, will arrive in Amsterdam again this Sunday (November 16).
The yearly Sinterklaas parade in Amsterdam is the largest world-wide.
Sinterklaas is an age-old Dutch tradition, at which children get presents. Sinterklaas is celebrated on December 5, but the tensions and expectations amongst children build up weeks before that date.
In Amsterdam, like in many other places in the Netherlands, Sinterklaas arrives in the country with a large parade. He will be officially welcomed by the mayor of Amsterdam (Eberhard van der Laan), and accompanied by hundreds of his helpers, the 'Zwarte Pieten' ('Black Peets').
This year's parade is overshadowed by the unusually fierce debate about the alleged racist character of the 'Zwarte Pieten'. The helpers are said to be racist stereotypes.
Although this discussion comes up almost every year, this year's debate has been extensive, and heated. More people than before have criticized the 'Zwarte Pieten' (and millions of Dutch people have expressed their anger with the attempt to interfere with what they regard as an age-old, innocent tradition).
The organization of the Amsterdam Sinterklaas Parade has announced that the Peets will no longer have golden earrings, and they may apply other colours of lipstick than just red, and maybe some other changes.
The arrival of 2014 will have 'black' Peets that are not painted black entirely, but rather with black brushes. This is supposed to suggest the Peets are not black by themselves, but became dirty/black after going through the chimneys of the houses, to bring presents to the children.
The official arrival of 2014, in the city of Gouda, saw 90 arrests of demonstrators, both for and against 'Black Peet' / Zwarte Piet. All 90 demonstrators will be released Saturday evening, and fined E 220. The demonstrators had been told to demonstrate on two locations, and not mix with the crowd of parents and children, which they did.
There are extra security measures for the parade in Amsterdam, but the city will not tell what they are exactly.
The parade in Amsterdam is very long, with many floats and it attracts thousands of children and their (grand) parents. The Peets will give pepernoten (sweets) to children (traditionally, they throw them around).
There will be hundreds of Zwarte Pieten, who will have thousands of kilograms of pepernoten to hand out to the children.
Route in Amsterdam:
10.45 am: Sinterklaas starts with his boat tour on the river Amstel, to the Scheepvaartmuseum.
12.00 am: Arrival at Scheepvaartmuseum and official welcome by the mayor.
12.30 Sinterklaas leaves Scheepvaartmuseum to Prins Hendrikkade13:10 Arrival Sinterklaas on Dam Square13:35 Muntplein
13.45 Vijzelstraat – Keizersgracht13:55 Weteringcircuit14:10 Leidseplein14:55 Arrival of Sinterklaas at Leidseplein15.10 Speech Sinterklaas from the Stadsschouwburg balcony.
See the route on this map.
Sinterklaas Parade at Damrak
Child dressed up as Sinterklaas helper