Welcome to Sinterklaas in Rhinebeck: a reinterpretation of the original Dutch Sinterklaas celebration.
We aim to make our celebration an inclusive, loving, and empowering environment for ALL children and families. In the spirit of transforming and reckoning with the history of this ritual we chose from the very beginning to eliminate the character of Black Peter. We recognize this character as racist against our Black community members, and therefore as harmful to all of us and to the spirit of inclusivity we attempt to foster. We reject any character or ritual that makes light of the cruelty of slavery and its painful aftermath.
We also acknowledge that the Dutch presence on this land is part of a history of colonialism: claiming land from the Stockbridge Munsee through “right of discovery”, bringing disease and the missionary work that forcibly erased the Mohican language and cultural practices.
We at Sinterklaas strive to find a way to balance celebrating Dutch traditions while also celebrating and honoring the many generations of people and traditions that existed here on this land before the Dutch and with the traditions of the people who were enslaved by the Dutch.
We model the good behavior that we wish to see in the world–where ALL are honored and loved for who they are. Where children are not judged naughty or nice, but enjoyed for whom they are. The whole notion of judgment has been eliminated in Sinterklaas.
Children are honored as the Kings and Queens of the day—an inversion of the common story—and then are taught–through their 3 wishes for their family, their community and the world–to be responsible monarchs as they participate in the world around them.
We celebrate our children as our future and aim to teach them by example how to be like the original idea of Sinterklaas–the good King–the light in the darkest time, our wish for Peace in the World.
Finding the right balance between cultural heritage and social respect remains one of the most complex challenges of our time–we at Sinterklaas hope we have done our part to change the story and move forward with hope, love, joy and PEACE.