05 December 2009

Christmas in The Netherlands: 6-8 black men

It is tough to be in school in December before winter break. As a kid, you're full of hope and excitement at every day. You're not tired of the snow yet and you want to play outside and you keep counting down the days, hours, and minutes until Christmas. As a teacher, you can't wait to get rid of these squirrely kids. Teachers are faced with the dilemma of running out of things to teach before the semester is over, but if you teach something new, the children will just forget about it over Christmas break.

In elementary school (and sometimes high school), teachers resorted to Christmas trivia. I am not sure if you can still teach about Christmas in schools without having a fight break out between atheist vs. overly religious parents, but that's not the point. Usually Christmas trivia included the history of our holiday traditions and what people of other cultures did. The teachers pretty much did stick to Christmas traditions because I didn't know what Hanukkah was about until I was old enough to use Google.

In high school, we were assigned a little week long project to keep us busy while our teacher wasted money and time on eBay holiday shopping. I was assigned the Netherlands. That is how I came across the rather odd sounding story of Zwarte Piet (Black Pete), who is the black faced helper of Sinterklass.

While I did get an A- on my four minute presentation, I would rather let a much better writer describe how the Dutch celebrate Christmas. The following video is a shortened version of what David Sedaris's wrote on the subject.

David Sedaris's full reading of "Six to Eight Black Men":
Part one, part two, and part three.

1 comment:

WendyB said...

Oddly, I remember Black Peter from a mention in the Diary of Anne Frank.