Kleine Klaas (Or: Children’s TV)

When I turned the television on this morning I switched to Nick, Jr. For most of the summer I used to watch only children’s tv programming when I was alone, though these days I only watch one program: Timmy Tijd (Wiki: English) on that channel. What can I say – the animation is for this little preschool sheep is cute. It uses the same animation as Wallace & Gromit.  I don’t even watch it for the language as there are no words! After watching Timmy Tijd I switch over to Comedy Central for episodes of Sam Sam, Het Zoonetje in Huis, and Kees & Co – all Dutch comedy shows.

But I noticed this morning that the show after Timmy Tijd was something different – a show by the name of Kleine KlaasThe description reads:

Deze oude, wijze man die elk jaar op 5 december cadeautjes uitdeelt, was ooit natuurlijk een kleine jongen. This wise, old man who gives out gifts every year on December 5 was also of course once a small boy.

Van wie heeft hij eigenlijk die stoomboot gekregen? Waarom kan hij zo goed gedichten schrijven? En waarom stopt hij zomaar cadeautjes in je schoen? Kortom, hoe werd hij Sinterklaas? Je ontdekt het door het kijken van deze leuke filmpjes. Who did he actually receive the steamboat from? Why can he write such good poems? And why does he put gifts in your shoe? How did he become Sinterklaas? You can discover this by looking at these fun videos.

Sinterklaas arrives in the Netherlands on November 17 this year (usually he arrives on a Saturday). There will be a parade in The Hague. And of course he does not arrive alone – Zwarte Piet (black Pete) comes along as well. This year the discussions of racism seem to have intensified, with even the United Nations briefly involved before retreating and dropping the case. The controversy with the character is that the actor uses “black face” as decoration, although this is used regardless of your skin tone.

Of course, Sinterklaas (celebrated on December 5) is not the same as Santa Clause (celebrated on December 25 in America and other countries). Sinterklaas leaves gifts in your shoe and is real in a child’s mind. Santa Clause is not celebrated as such in the Netherlands – the gifts you get on December 25 (and 26!) are known to be from your parents. The idea of Santa Clause actually originated from Sinterklaas – which I found a bit odd as an American!

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Categories: Holidays | Tags: , | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “Kleine Klaas (Or: Children’s TV)

  1. I know i am going to stir up a hornet’s nest with a lot of people, but i just wanted to clarify that the connotation that in particular Americans seems to have with the term ‘black face’ is not a connotation we have in the Netherlands. I know black face was used to ridicule African Americans during certain parts of US history but that is never taught or mentioned in dutch history. Therefore seeing a person with black face paint on during the Sinterklaas holiday does not mean anything to Dutch kids other than that Sinterklaas must be near or that Zwarte Piet is going to give them candy or presents.

    The discussion that has been returning each year is if it is racist or not. I personally do not believe it is meant or used in any racist way. The origin might have been, i don’t know. Since it is a made up story there are many different interpretations to the origin of Zwarte Piet. Some say Sinterklaas saved the black people from slave traders and then employed them, some say he did at first used them more as a warning to the little kids. If you are not nice during the year Zwarte Piet might catch you and bring you back to Spain with them.

    Anyways, i do not know why the United Nations had to get dragged into this discussion. Also I am all for having a Groene Piet, or een Blauwe Piet if that helps some individuals get over this debate each year.

    Okay, bring on the flaming.

    P.S. another great blog entry Niki!! Sorry to hijack it to clarify.

    • Thanks for the hijack. 😉 but yeah it was really weird to see a photo of Zwarte Piet for the first time. 😛

  2. In other news, that cartoon does sound adorably awesome.. That’s another cool thing about Sinterklaas. They come up with new original things every year to keep the kids occupied in the weeks leading up to Sinterklaas arriving and while he is here..

    Really cool stuff.

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