We at Sinterklaas Hudson Valley are WELL AWARE of the despicable character in the Dutch Celebration of Sinterklaas called the Black Peter–and state clearly here: the Black Peter is NOT and has never been a part of Sinterklaas in Rhinebeck nor for that matter part of the Sinterklaas celebrations that were brought by the Dutch to America in 1614. The Dutch movement to remove the Black Peter from their celebrations started in 1995. We in Rhinebeck never included that tradition when in 1984 we created our own NEW version of Sinterklaas in the Hudson Valley.
The Black Peter character came into the picture in the Netherlands in the 1800’s. The Dutch were in America from 1614 to 1674 BEFORE that tradition started in Holland. After 1674, the British tradition of Father Christmas came into play. And then Washington Irving invented “Santa Claus” in 1809.
Sinterklaas in the Hudson Valley is an all inclusive loving and empowering environment for children and families. 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.