Zwarte Piet

Christmas has its deepest roots in Kerstmis, the ages-old Dutch holiday tradition. It has a complicated history, based on the story of St. Nicholas, the bishop of Myra, blended with a mix of paganism, Western Christianity, Spanish influence and, of course, the Dutch colonial slave trade. Nowadays, on the first Saturday after the 11th of November, Sint Nicolaas and his many black servants (zwarte pieten) arrive by boat, from Spain, or at least that is the story told. Then, they parade through every Dutch town to give out candy and ask if the children have been good. I photographed this controversial parade in The Hague in 2017.