Every December the Dutch Santa (Sinterklaas) bursts onto the under six scene, with his dear friends all named “Black Peter”.
Dutch Santa hails from Spain, where he and his Peters live in race-neutral harmony. Every December 6 they sail to the promised lands of Flanders and Netherlands to spread the joy of present opening and soot covered skin.
The Black Peters climb down chimneys (hence the soot darkening their skin) and open front doors allowing our beautifully dressed Dutch Santa to enter houses freely without having to suffer Black Peter’s sooty fate.
It’s such a crazy annual tradition that no doubt would not translate at all to other cultures. For a country still nursing a very recent hangover of atrocities performed in the Congo last century, I find it very strange that such little noise is raised over this annual tradition of white leader and his “black followers”.
Perhaps though this is just my over sensitive Australian eyes not spotting an innocent childish tradition over my own queasiness of racism. In any case I’m curious to speak with more Belgians to know their opinions on our Peters!
One of the more peculiar annoyances of living in Belgium lies within the typically very prompt and useful postal service.
Any item larger than a letter is generally delivered by way of an ‘IOU’ note, kindly requesting the recipient to run down to the post office to pick up the item.
The catch is that these items are retained in the post office for exactly 14 days, and on the 14th day are kindly returned to the sender.
Until this silly Australian strolled in with his care-free over-14-day-holiday ways, I doubt that the send-parcel-back policy had rarely been enforced. However in the past five years of my Belgian stay I’ve been bitten by the lost parcel blues on more than one occasion.
Which brings me to my latest Belgian Moment: I am leaving the country, and will be back in exactly 12 days, just in case Johan the post-man is waiting for me in Brussel.
In many ways The Belgians look to Dutch in the same way New Zealanders looks to Australians or Canadians looks to Americans – pessimistic annoyance, with a tinge (very, very slight tinge) of jealousy. The Dutchies have bigger toys, louder voices and during football season, much brighter uniforms. Belgians sigh – The Dutch just seem to have it all.
And yesterday they had even more – the whole centre of Gent was awash with orange, as Belgium came to realization that if they don’t support Netherlands, they’ve got the choice of Spain or Germany, two nations still scourned upon for their recent (in modern terms) invasions.
I saw orange pointer hands, orange hair, orange underpants on the outside of orange pants, orange tinted beer, orange oranges, though in true form I left my orange camera at home so you’ve got nothing but a bunch of internet highlights of the magnificent game between the Netherlands and Uruguay that occupied much of my fair town.
However all of this ‘jealous pessismism’ might be absolute crap, as I have read that the Dutch porn star ‘Bobbi Eden’ promises to give all of her Twitter followers gobbys if the Netherlands win the final this Sunday:
All this week I’m going through the many time-wasters that occupy the floor and wallspace of my favourite room, the toilet.
Most of the reading material is linguistic based, as I’m trying my hardest to understand some of the many thousands of languages Belgians seem to speak. On particularly length trips to the throne room, I enjoy “Hide This French Book 101”, a small hard-cover that contains handly phrases to experiment on French-types. My dear french speaking girlfriend particularly finds them ‘interesting’ when shouted from behind a closed toilet door from an impossibly difficult to understand Australian.
Hide This French Book 101 Contains such brilliant ice breakers such as: