13 November 2021, by Victoria Séveno

It took a while to get to this point, but after years of debate and much criticism, the highly controversial Zwarte Piet character appears to have been almost fully replaced by the so-called Roetveegpiet – or Sooty Piet – at Sinterklaas celebrations across the Netherlands

Zwarte Piet character gradually disappearing from the Netherlands

Over the past few years, the Roetveegpiet has gradually become a more popular and commonplace character in Dutch Sinterklaas celebrations, and it seems like the cancellation of various festive events last year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic served as the final nail in the coffin for Zwarte Piet.  

While there were still plenty of Zwarte Pieten to be seen in 2019, with over the top wigs, golden hoop earrings, and blackface, new research has found that this year, most officially organised Sinterklaas events will only feature Roetveegpieten

Most Sinterklaas events will feature the Sooty Piet instead

In a survey of over 210 municipalities in the Netherlands conducted by the AD, it was found that 123 have opted to only feature the Roetveegpiet, while 32 said they’d been using a mix of the two different kinds of Pieten. Only 10 will be using Zwarte Pieten

Back in 2017, 239 municipalities said they’d be sticking with Zwarte Pieten for official events. Rotterdam, Amsterdam, and The Hague were among the municipalities who said they’d completely ditched the Zwarte Piet for events this year.

Municipalities that have committed to the switch say the time for debate is over and that this change was inevitable. “The discussion is now over. It’s done, we just want to party again,” said one committee member from Friesland.

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