Ho, Ho… Oh, oh! Santa’s Little Helper

This character appears around the world (and only around Christmas time) wearing colorful costumes gold earrings and hats with feathers and is generally considered gifted with somewhat less than the average intelligence. His role is to assist Sinterklaas (The dutch version of Santa Claus!) by performing various holiday tasks, like delivering presents down chimneys and recording names of naughty and nice children in Sinterklaas’ book of names.

Despite his colorful image, he is a VERY controversial character in the Netherlands. He gets his name from either his complexion or the soot from the chimneys he slides down or both. He is often criticized as being an old-fashioned stereotype and racist symbol of slavery.

Additional legends connected with this character:

  • He is charged with “taking away” bad children in a bag.
  • (In Europe) Some legends suggest that this character is actually “the devil “and that after being conquered by a Saint (Nicholas), he is made to climb down chimneys, through fire, to leave gifts.
  • Another legend makes this character a Moor from North Africa.
  • (In Holland) He comes to punish bad children by whipping them or chasing after them with a stick.
  • It is said that this character keeps a ledger of the good and bad behavior of children.
  • Its also noted that this character would leave coal in the stockings of bad children to remind them that if they did not repent of their behavior, then they would surely go to Hell one day.
  • (In Morocco) People identify him as being Santa Claus

Can you name one or all of his names?

He is usually called Black Pete or Black Peter. He is also named as Zwarte Piete (in Holland), Hoesecker (in Luxenbourg), Pere Fouettard (in France) and Knecht Ruprecht (in Germany).

For further study:

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