Sinterklaas in Gouda (Or: Old and new)

Today is the arrival of Sinterklaas in Gouda, on national TV. The story began Tuesday with a nightly 10 minute news segment (Sinterklaasjournaal – Dutch link). The story this year was the following: the Pieten wanted to hang up a painting of the announcer, Dieuwertje Blok, in the steam boat that was bringing everyone to Gouda. They hung it up using nails and then water started to appear in the boat. In an effort to get to Gouda in time, all of the Pieten except for one left the boat, leaving Sinterklaas and the one Piet to do all of the preparations. (In the end it turns out the water was not from the nails but from an open faucet in the bathroom.)

Because all of the Pieten went missing, they asked the help of Opa Piet (Grandpa Piet – an older actor, Peter Faber, who apparently was a Piet some years ago) to train some new Pieten in time for the arrival today. This segment points to the rather heated discussions about racism since Pieten are usually called Zwarte Pieten (Black Petes) and use blackface, red lips, and golden earrings. Some of the newer Pieten that were trained were simply white or had soot on their face, since the modern story of how Pieten turned black was that they went down the chimneys.

Sinterklaasjournaal 2014 Opa Piet

Opa Piet in the middle (2014 Sinterklaasjournaal)

But anyway – the new Pieten were done with their training and Opa Piet was ready to go back to Spain to enjoy his retirement. Unfortunately he accidentally locked the Pieten in the factory and then forgot his suitcase when boarding the bus. Turns out he really didn’t want to go back to Spain and enjoy his retirement… But today, the mayor of Gouda was able to track down Opa Piet (who came back for his suitcase) to get the key for the factory to free the new Pieten. At the same time, there was a bit of issue with the steam boat – there was only one Piet left on the boat and he did not know the way to Gouda. Of course Sinterklaas was asleep. Today we found out that it was all planned, and Sinterklaas had put the boat on the right trajectory before going to bed. So Sinterklaas and the one Piet arrive (finally – there is a storyline delay every year) and meet up with the newly trained Pieten.

In the middle of the program, the older Pieten arrive with a row boat, including Paniek!!! Piet (emphasis mine – i.e. Panic Piet). Whenever he panics he shouts Paniek! Paniek! and spins around two or three times in distress. Opa Piet is also in Gouda, having successfully delayed his retirement to pass out Pepernoten to the kids. While parading through the city with the new Pieten, Sinterklaas meets the old Pieten who have returned and welcomes them back, but seems to think Opa Piet should retire and head back to Spain (he doesn’t know Opa Piet is still hanging around).

Paniek Piet Sinterklaasjournaal

Paniek Piet

The national show ends with Opa Piet hiding somewhere and the old Pieten leaving again with the steam boat (and more importantly to the kids, all of the gifts), because there was not enough room in the Piet house for the old and new Pieten. You’ll have to tune in tonight for more!

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