Comic 51 - There's always one to spoil it for the others.

Posted on 20th Nov 2015, 4:49 PM in Christmas at Blocksberg
There's always one to spoil it for the others.
A big party is being held at court. There are decorations and good cheer.
Caption: Silent night, holy night, witches wait, all is quiet... until that one particular guest arrives... Saint Nicolas!
St. Nicolas enters, flanked by Black Pete who carries a switch. St. Nicolas looks neither like a traditional bishop nor like jolly old father Christmas, but rather like a bearded elf with a hint of menace to his demeanor.
St. Nicolas: Have you been naughty witches, or nice?
Witches: Oooh-aah
Second caption: Note: St. Nick has been standardized by the EU. Pete hasn't.
Alcydia yells at the reader.
Caption: Yes, it's the time of the year when every heart is filled with joy.
Alcydia: I HATE Christmas!
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Author Notes:

ReinderDijkhuis 20th Nov 2015, 4:49 PM edit delete
ReinderDijkhuis
"Pete" of course refers to Black Pete, a figure I have decidedly mixed feelings about. He appears as Santa's helper in parts of Northern Europe, mostly the Netherlands and parts of Germany. I don't know if Norwegians Geir and Daniel had more than a passing familiarity with him, but I was raised with him - or rather, a veritable army of Black Petes assisting St. Nicolas - as an integral part of the season. But I've also known him to be controversial in the Netherlands for over thirty years, ever since the Netherlands became home to a large number of black Surinamese who got Dutch passports around the time of Surinamese independence in 1976.
Ten years ago, during the first English-language run of Chronicles of the Witch Queen, I decided to let the reference stand as part of the many Christmas mythologies that Europe has. Luckily, EU-standardized Pete only appears briefly and doesn't look obviously like some sort of slave character. As it happens, some official standardization is going on and recent incarnations of Pete have been less of a blackface stereotype than they have historically been. Interestingly, the driver behind this change is capitalism rather than government, as companies decide that the outdated stereotype doesn't sell anymore.

Personally, I'd just a soon do away with him entirely. Krampus is so much cooler.

Comments:

Geir Strøm 27th Dec 2015, 1:59 PM edit delete reply
Reinder is right, we knew very little about Dutch Santa (Sinterklaas) at the time. If I remember correctly, the first notes had the Ferman Weihnachtsmann and his punishing henchman as the first visitors. (A little closer to home for us northerners). At some point he got replaced by the saint and his assistent.
Geir Strøm 27th Dec 2015, 2:04 PM edit delete reply
Stereotypes. Yes, absolutely. Daniel and I like doing stereotypes. Stereotypes on stereotypes, if possible. Sometimes it works, sometimes not.