Dutch Roots Return With Sinterklaas Celebration

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12-Sinterklaas-2012The third annual Sinterklaas Celebration will be held in Rhinebeck and Kingston with a variety of events over several days. The event honors the region’s Dutch heritage by recreating customs that the settlers from Holland brought to the Hudson Valley.

In the DUtch tradition, each year a town resident dressed up as Sinterklaas – elegantly garbed in a bishop’s tall hat, red cape, shiny ring, and jeweled staff. Mounted on a white steed, this Sinterklaas would ride through town knocking on doors late at night accompanied by the Grumpus (also known as Black Peter) who threatens to steal away the naughtiest children, and rewards the good children. Over the years, Sinterklaas’ ride turned into a parade still celebrated in Holland today.

Kingston will play the role of Spain as a procession of giant puppets, stars, fish, flags, and the great Hudson River itself will travel down Broadway participating in the story of Sinterklaas’ arrival in the Hudson Valley.

For more information or to volunteer for the Sinterklaas events, call 845-339-4280 or visit www.sinterklaashudsonvalley.com.

Photo courtesy Nancy Donskoj.

2 thoughts on “Dutch Roots Return With Sinterklaas Celebration

  1. Debra Jackson, New York City

    I would be interested to know whether the Sinterklaas celebrations in Rhinebeck and Kingston include the traditional Black Peter (Zwarte Piet in Dutch) figure in the parades. Actually, the traditional mode of celebration in true Dutch style calls for many Black Petes, even hundreds, as reported in the NY Times article by John Tagliabue published November 17, 2013. I was in Amsterdam on business last December and witnessed some of the Sinterklaas festivities —and watched as whites in blackface cavorted around Dam Square. As an American witnessing this it seemed a bizarre spectacle indeed; because I am a black American it conjured up all sorts of ugly ghosts of our racist past. But is it reasonable to condemn Black Peter as an anachronism with no place in 21st century Dutch society? Some in Amsterdam and other Dutch cities are beginning to denounce the celebration of Black Peter as racist. I am curious to hear the views of others on this subject.

    1. Erik from Amsterdam

      Hi Debra,

      I can imagine how awkward you must have felt.

      Give it a few years, and it will finally be changed.

      Black Pete will remain, but his looks are changed so he doesn’t look like a racist Blackface anymore.


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