(photo by M. Crispin)
I knew that what I had been told about the Dutch christmas is true.
Now I'll tell you. Here goes.
Santa Claus is Sinterklaas.
Sinterklaas is from Spain.
He arrives by steamboat on December 5th.
Good children leave their shoes out to be filled with candy.
Bad children are given salt.
Very bad children are kidnapped by Sinterklaas's assistant (Zwarte Piet) and taken back to Spain.
Zwarte Piet is a black skinned man, represented by a white guy in blackface and court jester garb.
Zwarte Piet is either a) a servant b) the devil or c)a chimney sweep, depending on which origination story you chose to believe.
The Dutch people have absolutely no problem with this.
Here's the photo from the Wikipedia article.
(I will add my own photo as soon as I meet a Zwarte Piet.)