News of: Saturday, November 14 2015,
Sinterklaas, the Dutch version of Santa Claus, will arrive in Amsterdam again tomorrow (November 15).
The yearly Sinterklaas parade in Amsterdam is the largest world-wide. The parade normally attracts thousands of (grand)parents and children along the route.
Sinterklaas is an age-old Dutch tradition, at which children get presents and candy. 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 arrives well before December 5, so he can prepare all the presents that have to be distributed).
Sinterklaas 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 not so overshadowed by the debate about the alleged racist character of the 'Zwarte Pieten' as the parade in 2014. The helpers are said to be racist 'blackface' stereotypes.
It is a broadly felt sentiment that the Sinterklaas tradition is an 'innocent and harmless' children's party. Others believe the tradition has to change. Meanwhile, experiments are done with the colouring of the Black Peets, all over the country.
Last year (2014) the organization of the Amsterdam Sinterklaas Parade announced that the Black Peets will no longer have golden earrings, and they may apply other colours of lipstick than just red, and maybe some other changes.
The 'black' Peets were not painted black entirely, but rather with black brushes. This was 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 2015 (broadcast on national tv), in the city of Meppel, will have an official demonstration against Black Peets along the route of the parade.
It isn't very much in the news in the Netherlands now, probably because of the attacks in Paris, last night. Authorities say there is no reason for extra concern, but everyone is cautious, and scenarios for all circumstances are in place.
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.
The route starts on the river Amstel ('Water route'), then goes on as the street parade (Land route).
10:30 De Omval
11:20 Locks at Theater Carré
11:30 Nieuwe Herengracht
11:45 Arrival at Scheepvaartmuseum
12:30 Sinterklaas leaves from the Scheepvaartmuseum
13:05 Arrival at Dam Square. From Dam Square, the parade will walk on, and Sinterklaas (on his horse) will walk at the end of the parade.
15:15 Arrival of Sinterklaas at Leidseplein
15:30 Speech bij Sinterklaas from the Stadsschouwburg balcony.
See the route on this map.
Black Peets (Zwarte Pieten)
Sinterklaas Parade at Damrak
Child dressed up as Sinterklaas helper