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A woman paints her face as she dresses up as Zwarte Piet (Black Pete) in Soest, the Netherlands, in October 2013. (EPA/Robin Van Lonkhuijsen)

Ah, holiday time in the Netherlands.  It means pepernoten (holiday cookies), handwritten, personalized poems to give to friends and family, and large parades across the country. But for many cities in the Netherlands, the season of Sinterklaas is not complete without a dash of holiday blackface.

Every year, from late November to early December, the Dutch celebrate the arrival of Sinterklaas (the Dutch version of St. Nick) and Zwarte Piet, (Black Pete in English). For decades, Dutch people have dressed up as Zwarte Piet by painting their faces black, giving themselves big red lips and donning curly afro wigs. Sinterklaas is the stern boss, Zwarte Piets are his goofy, acrobatic helpers.…  Seguir leyendo »