Zwarte Piet- Tradition or Racism?
In many countries around the world, Santa Claus has helpers. We have discussed Krampus (http://www.historynaked.com/krampus/) in a previous post. However, in the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Belgium, Aruba and Curaçao, SinterKlaas or St. Nicholas has a different helper- Zwarte Piet or Black Pete. Zwarte Piet is depicted as a “blackamoor” from Spain dressed in a colorful Renaissance costume of pantaloons, feathered cap and ruffled shirt, curly hair, bright red lipstick and gold earrings. He travels with SinterKlaas when he arrives by boat from Spain in November and is welcomed with a parade. SinterKlaas rides through town on a white horse while Zwarte Piet distributes treats of pepernoten, kruidnoten, and strooigoed to…
The Dutch Tulip Bubble
Anyone who follows the stock market or survived 2008 knows what a bubble is. What may surprising is the first one was not in housing or gold. What was this amazing commodity? Tulips. I can hear your disbelief through the computer screen. Tulips? Those things my mom plants around the sidewalk to the front porch? Yes. Mike Dash in his book Tulipomania: The Story of the World’s Most Coveted Flower and the Extraordinary Passions It Aroused said one bulb of the variety Semper Augustus was so valuable “It was enough to feed, clothe and house a whole Dutch family for half a lifetime, or sufficient to purchase one of the…
The Floods of 1287
On December 14, 1287 a strong storm tide caused a dike to break and decimate parts of the Netherlands and Northern Germany (the day after St. Lucia Day), killing between 50,000 to 80,000 people. Land was permanently flooded in an area now known as the Waddenzee and IJsselmeer. It especially affected the north of the Netherlands, particularly Friesland. The island of Griendwas was almost destroyed, only ten houses were left standing. It would be known as The St. Lucia Flood. In England, the same storm had similar devastating effects. It killed hundreds of people in England, mostly in the village of Hickling, Norfolk, where 180 died and the water rose…