Tuesday, December 11, 2012

what the fa-la-la-la-la

So I was indulging in an occasional dollop of pulp and kitsch when an item unexpectedly got me tsk-tsk-ing! The show aired clips from a Christmas pageant in the Netherlands. It couldn’t be news-worthy I thought, 'cause how unique and headline-grabbing could a holiday pageant be especially during this season. But then I realized why.
(Image credit:http://www.bpp.org.uk/blackpete.html)

According to Dutch traditions, Santa has a Grinch-like sidekick Zwarte Piet (“Black Pete”) who does Santa’s bidding to separate the good children from the bad children. Those black-faced cast members in the picture above are the Dutch version of Santa's elves. With annual stagings of cultural particularities, Santa and his Black Petes are now an indelible part of Dutch Christmas celebrations. Apparently, the Dutch have and continue to celebrate Christmas this way without so much as batting an eyelid. And why shouldn't they?   

For one, what is the Netherlands now has moved beyond the world of Zwarte Piet then. If the current Dutch football team is a thumbnail image of Dutch society, its racial diversity is unmistakable. Given this diversity, racially charged caricatures would only be counter intuitive or even culturally self-implosive. For the racially-conscious minded, Black Pete conjures up images of the fabled minstrel Jim Crow whose name has become synonymous with the sordid race-relations in the United States of the not-so-distant past. 
(Image credit: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part3/3h489b.html)

Meanwhile, on the flip-side of culturally insensitive Christmas themes:
(Image credit:http://www.cagle.com/2004/12/rick-mckees-cartoon-for-12272004/)

Krismas Chibai vek u le!

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